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Franklin's staff is a rebuilding project of respect, familiarity

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For any head coach and in particular James Franklin, familiarity, respect, and consistency are all imperative in attempting to fill a vacated assistant coaching position and most recently the promotions for several of those on James Franklin's staff.

By Jarrod Prugar

Franklin was tasked with replacing both offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and running backs/special teams’ coordinator Charles Huff. In their places, Franklin promoted tight ends coach Ricky Rahne to be offensive coordinator and Phil Galiano to be special teams’ coordinator. 

"Coach Moorhead is at Mississippi State doing a great job and Coach Huff has got an opportunity there, as well." Franklin said of the coaching moves. "Then, obviously there's some other whispers and rumors and things going on as well, and to me I take that as a compliment."

Promoting from within is not something new for Franklin as he promoted Brent Pry to defensive coordinator following the departure of Bob Shoop in 2015. 

Familiarity and family were at the root of both Pry and Rahne being promoted from within and it all ties back to Franklin being a family first type coach above all else. 

"I'm not a big believer in interviews. I get it, especially with people you don't know, but the reality is, Ricky Rahne has been interviewing for this position since he was a graduate assistant for me at Kansas State," Franklin said of the interviewing process or lack thereof with Rahne. "Ricky was the offensive graduate assistant and Scott Frost was the defensive graduate assistant on our staff at Kansas State. So he's been preparing and interviewing for this responsibility for a long time."

For both Pry and Rahne, Franklin knew essentially what he was getting in promoting them both with each serving as an assistant under Franklin for multiple seasons throughout multiple stops.And that level of comfort has made the transition easier for Rahne.

"And to be able to call the plays is a blessing and it’s even better because I’m with coaches I know, respect and quite frankly love," Rahne said. "[Offensive line coach Matt] Limegrover is a great friend of mine and I trust him implicitly with the offensive line. The same thing with [Wide receivers coach Josh] Gattis the fact that I get to work with him, we’ve worked together now for six years and I’m excited our relationship is great."

Penn State football has been a family affair since the dawn of the Paterno era which is both a blessing and a curse. The nature of college athletics in this era is to be at a school for a few years then bolt for greener pasture something rare for those involved with the Nittany Lions. 

"This is a fantastic place and I love working for James," Pry said when asked about what led to him remaining with Penn State after being sought by other schools. "My family loves being here. We love the family environment that coach provides for us."

With many of the coaches on the staff having been with Franklin for multiple stops along their coaching journeys, it provides Franklin and the program with a familiarity unbeknownst to most programs due to turnover. The familiarity with each other provides those in the coaching room an opportunity to have their voices heard and makes for smoother transitions when opportunities arise for coaches to go to a bigger, better job. 

"It's also part of our responsibility to develop our staff and allow coaches to grow and sometimes get opportunities to move on and be head coaches. That's great, as well," Franklin said.

Although Franklin wishes for his coaches to do what's best for both themselves and their families, it doesn't make the potential for coaches leaving any easier on Franklin or his staff. 

"Brent's my guy. Brent's obviously been a valued part of our staff since day one and for the last seven years. He's one of my best friends and I love his family and his wife," Franklin raved about his friend and defensive coordinator.

"The hard thing for me is that I kind of feel split. I want what's best for Brent Pry and his family, but I also want what's best for Penn State and Penn State Football. So I'm kind of conflicted on that, personally and professionally."

The vacancies left by the departure of Huff and Moorhead and subsequently by Rahne being promoted were filled rather easily and quickly by Franklin which bodes well for both his confidence in their abilities as well as for recruiting.

Tyler Bowen comes to Penn State after serving at Maryland as tight ends coach and will be filling Rahne's old position. Joe Galiano gets promoted from defensive consultant to special teams’ coordinator after serving several seasons in both the NFL and college ranks coaching special teams. 

Bowen is familiar with Penn State serving as a graduate assistant in 2014 and coaching with Moorhead at Fordham in 2015. Galiano joins the Nittany Lions after serving as a consultant on the defensive side of the ball in 2017. 

With the addition of a 10th paid assistant coming in 2018, Franklin and company are in no hurry to hire a running backs coach until that time. What is to be determined is whether that is a promotion from within or a coach brought in from outside the program.

Being able to have coaching depth on your staff is just as important in this era of college athletics as depth on a roster. Having the ability to go down the hall to promote from within makes life simpler on the players, the head coach and the entire staff.

"When you can have some people that are already on your staff and you can promote from within, I think that's the ideal situation whenever you can do it," Franklin concluded.

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