Marching onward through our profiles of the new Penn State football coaching staff, we take a closer look at 61 year old offensive line coach Mac McWhorter. The Penn State offensive line's struggles have been no small secret for the past decade -- a ridiculous notion to those who have been observing the program for more than a few years, but a harsh reality of most Nittany Lion teams of the 21st century.
Experience. Here's McWhorter's Longhorn bio page, which still exists for whatever reason. His college coaching career includes the following:
2005-2010: Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line, Texas
2004: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line, Texas
2003: Offensive Line, Texas
2002: Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends, Texas
2001: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line, Georgia Tech
2000: Offensive Line, Georgia Tech
1999: Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line, Memphis
1996-98: Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends, Clemson
1991-95: Offensive Line/Tight Ends/Special Teams/Football Operations, Georgia
1990: Offensive Line/Football Operations, Duke
1989: Head Coach, West Georgia
1988: Offensive Line, Alabama
1987: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line/Football Operations, Alabama
1985-86: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line/Football Operations, Georgia
1982-84: Offensive Line, Georgia Tech
1981: Offensive Line/Special Teams Coordinator, Georgia Tech
1980: Receivers/Special Teams Coordinator, Georgia Tech
As you can see, McWhorter was with Bill O'Brien at Georgia Tech in the early 2000's. He moved on to Texas when George O'Leary left Georgia Tech for his short-lived gig at Notre Dame. Under McWhorter (and with Texas' immense talent pool), the Longhorns had multiple All-Americans, and even more All-Big 12 linemen. When he was essentially scapegoated along with other Texas offensive coaches following the 2010 season, McWhorter seemed to be adapting to the non-coaching life:
He'd lost 20 pounds since the 2010 Texas A&M game. He'd grown a goatee. He'd been running alone in the mornings and walking with his wife in the afternoons. He'd discovered the joy of reading into the night with no concern for an alarm set to bleat at 4:30 a.m. He'd bought a new motorcycle. A Harley.
"I've discovered a lot of things that I've never had time to do before," McWhorter said then.
However, he most certainly left the door open for a return to the profession:
"It'll always be in my blood," he said.
And he added: "If something came up, with the right people, at the right place, I would really consider doing it. The right people make more a difference for me than the place."
"The right people" turned out to be some of his old friends from O'Leary's Yellow Jacket staff.
Recruiting and Belly-Fire. You'll see why these belong together. I solicited some opinions from Texas bloggers. Here were their opinions of McWhorter, which paint a gloomier picture than the glowing official Longhorns bio:
I think the guy is probably a solid football coach from a technical and teaching standpoint. I think he got handed a situation trying to teach bad schemes in the final years of the ancient regime, got fed up/frustrated and threw up his hands. This program-wide entropy led to 5-7 and cost him his job.
As for recruiting, he didn't exactly put forth a lot of effort in finding best available guys who fit our scheme but again our 'scheme' was sort of to blame. I think he sort of felt like "why bother." Our grab bag of badly conditioned offensive line folks can be clearly seen. Not an NFL pipeline. I wouldn't look for him to be a [recruiting] rainmaker in Texas. Then again, Texas has close to 376,000 D1 prospects every year so he may pull some guys.
I think if he's recharged and excited to be going to work he's at worst a B+.
Folks I know who have worked with McWhorter speak well of him in terms of his capabilities, but like a lot of folks as he's approached the end of his career he's been less interested in "living the job," so to speak. So I'd agree that if he's fired up to go all-in one more time in his career, I'm sure he'll do fine. If not, he may just be adequate, and perhaps less than that if that translates to lazy recruiting.
Cupboard. Kind of bare. Penn State loses four starting offensive linemen this off-season, with partial credit going to guard John Urschel, who receieved a fair amount of playing time in 2011. The roster is packed with a bevy of highly-rated prospects who are completely unproven at the college level. It'll be up to McWhorter, as well as new strength coach Craig Fitzgerald, to whip these puppies into snarling dogs.