Penn State Assistant Coaches, Offense: Are the Kids in Good Hands?

Head coaches in college football get all the fame, blame and coin.  And while their obligations include answering to their Athletic Director bosses who manage multimillion dollar budgets, the media (such as it is), and the boosters and fans, they are perhaps most importantly responsible for teaching and leading a team of 85-100+ young men.  Throw in NCAA practice and contact constraints, and you don’t have to be a figurehead to know that that task requires quality assistance and delegation—to other leaders of young men.  So, let’s take an in-depth look at how Penn State does it, starting with the offense.  If the format and content are well-received, we'll consider doing similar reviews as part of opponent previews this season.

Penn State has a head coach legend, and a team of assistant coaches. They've long avoided declaring Offensive or Defensive Coordinator titles, opting instead for naming all coaches Assistant Coach, comma, their positions of responsibility, and this year is no different.

Galen Hall, 70, Offense/Running backs

Bio

Galen’s a homegrown Pee Ay boy, but we won’t ask Afroman to weigh-in on his upbringing in Altoona.  He quarterbacked PSU to wins in the 1959 Liberty Bowl over Alabama (after Richie Lucas got hurt), the 1960 Liberty Bowl and the ’61 Gator Bowl and went 15-6 as a starter.  Most 70 year-old coaches have a long coaching tree, but Galen’s may be more diverse than others.  He started out as Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma (’66 to ’83) under a number of HC’s (including one Barry Switzer) and was part of two National Championships.  He was HC at Florida where he led the Gators to their first ever SEC championship and went 40-18-1 overall, then embarked on professional stints with the World League, NFL Europe, XFL and NFL proper (that’s no Fox proper, mind you), before returning to PSU to his current post in 2004.

Players Coached

Offensive Coordinators and Head Coaches can take credit for a whole host of players, but at the risk of going all Tim Brewster here, we'll just keep to the big ones.  At Oklahoma, he coached two Heisman trophy-winning running backs: Steve Owens in ’69 and Billy Sims in ’78, and at Florida he coached Emmit Smith and John L. Williams (who blocked for Curt Warner on the Seahawks).  And he was instrumental in leading the Nittany Lions out of the Dark Years with input over Michael Robinson and later, two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (the legit one--not pre-season) Darryl Clark.

Leadership

Galen broke into coaching in the wild frontier of Oklahoma football and while some of the coaches there were stretching rules, he managed to keep his nose clean.  This he also managed at first at Florida; he became HC after Charlie Pell was fired for NCAA violations and Galen was the highest ranking on staff not with the program when those violations occurred.  But late in the eighties, after suffering through a couple of sanctions-inhibited 6-and 7-win seasons, he was let go when it was learned he made payments totalling over $21,000 to assistant coaches out of his personal funds and made a $360 child-support payment for player Jarvis Williams.  Despite those errors in judgment, JoePa has stood by him.

Jay Paterno, 41, Quarterbacks

Bio

Jay graduated PSU in 1990 and ‘apprenticed’ at JMU, Uconn & UVA before returning to join the PSU staff in ’95, as TE coach and recruiting coordinator.  In ’99, he began coaching the quarterbacks.  Oh, and he’s easily the most social-media aware of the football staff, having been known to blog (check out the latest—BSD favorite HnB gets a shout out!) and tweet from time to time.

Players Coached

Jay was still cutting his quarterback-coaching teeth during the Dark Years, but oversaw the development of fan-favorite Zach Mills, as well as erstwhile starters Rashard Casey and Matt Senneca, then had perhaps his biggest success story to date coaching Michael Robinson to a Big Ten Championship.  He did his best with Anthony Morelli before getting maximum production and two very successful starting years out of one-time long-term project Darryl Clark.

Leadership

With the success of both Robinson and then Clark, the recent willingness of highly-sought QB recruits to sign up for his tutelage, and his unquestioned stamp on PennState’s recent offensive identity, Jay has steadily improved his fan-approval rating.  More importantly, the players seem to be responding better to him as he grows more experienced.   Mrob still rings him for advice.

Dick Anderson, 64, OL/Guards/Centers
Bill Kenney, 55, Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends

Bios

Since PennState utilizes one of the more unique offensive line coaching arrangements in the nation, we’ll list these two together. Anderson grew up in Queens, played both ways for Rip Engle in ’60-63, and started out coaching as an assistant at Lafayette and UPenn, before accepting a JoePa invite to join PSU in 1973.  He left for a brief stint as HC of Rutgers from ’84-’90, when he was fired and crawled home safely to Joe, despite having led Rutgers to their first defeat of PSU in 70 years, in 1988.  Kenney was a three year starter at NorwichUniversity,  joined the PSU staff as a graduate assistant in 1988 and became full-time in ’89.  In their tenures, they’ve both held multiple position responsibilities along the offensive line.

Players Coached

In the years Anderson and Kenney have been coaching, PennState has seen some very strong offensive lines and some pretty weak ones as well.  Many fans claim that the tumultuousness of the Oline coaching staff (swapping of position responsibilities through the years) has lent itself to inconsistent production of lines from year to year.  In any event, Anderson coached up a number of All-American linemen in the seventies and early eighties: John Nessel, Tom Rafferty, Keith Dorney (2x), Bill Dugan and Sean Farrell (2x) and Mike Munchak.  In the nineties, while Anderson worked with the quarterbacks after returning from Rutgers, Kenney coached the OL and brought up such studs as Jeff Hartings, Marco Rivera and Kyle Brady.  And while the Dark Years didn’t produce any AA linemen, Kenney did coach All-Big Ten OT Kareem McKenzie, helped build the line that opened holes for Larry Johnson’s 2000 yards (a line centered by Joe Iorio!), and developed Levi Brown into a top-5 NFL draft pick.  Their coaching work combined to produce a stellar line in 2008, highlighted by PSU’s first ever Rimington Trophy winner A.Q. Shipley, along with OG Rich Ohrnberger and LT Gerald Cadogen.

Leadership

This one's tough to get a bead on these days.  Although it's weird to say the jury's still out on two dudes with over 55 years of coaching experience (at PSU alone), but in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture and especially with the O-line's performance in our two big games last year, it may actually be the case.  Joe's made it clear the young O-line studs are not ready for prime-time yet this season, so it remains to be seen what kind of cohesion Anderson & Kenney can drum up among the journeyman and veterans.  Many of us have speculated that these two are likely to move on whenever Joe does.  Will they be leaving the cupboard as stocked as Joe seems set to do?

Mike McQueary, WR/ Recruiting Coordinator

Bio

Big Red grew up in State College and wears the disposition of a permanent resident of HappyValley.  He first jumped into our hearts as a 5th year senior in 1997, when he finally got the starting nod and kicked things off with a 34-17 beatdown of Pitt (he threw for 366 yards, then a PSU record).  After failing to catch on in the NFL and NFL Europe, he returned to PSU in 1999 and started his coaching career as an administrative assistant to the football program.  He began full-time in 2004 when JoePa promoted him to Wide Receivers coach and Recruiting Coordinator (thereby demoting Jay from the latter position).  It is not lost on many PSU fans that this coincided with the beginning of the end of the Dark Years.

Players Coached

For Big Red, this list could read more like ‘Players Recruited,’ for he spearheaded the Return to Glory when Derrick Williams and Justin King signed on.  But he also coached one of PSU’s best ever receiver squads in Williams, walk-on Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.  The receiver shelf was even well-stocked after those three graduated, with Derek Moye stepping in and McQueary finding another gem of a walk-on in Graham Zug.  Young talents Justin Brown, Shawney Kersey and Devon Smith seem poised to make plays if we find the right quarterback.

Leadership

On a PennState staff of such varying ages, McQueary is a very important bridge from the older coaches to the young players.  He’s obviously integral to the recruiting process, convincing young men that the PennState experience is far more than just Joe Paterno, and selling them on the merits of the Grand Experiment.  Having been part of it himself, being a young member of an older staff, and continuing to develop and improve his own coaching chops, Big Red may be our most important offensive coach.

 

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