In the Black Shoe Diaries slack over the past few days, we've been discussing whether or not former players should be given the coaching reigns without working their way up the system. This came up when discussing Dan Connor being named the head coach at Archbishop Carroll and when LaVar Arrington's name came up as a possible new position coach.
There's no doubt that it's easier to give a coaching job to someone who actively played the game they're coaching, especially for said program. The little nuances of the game are simply second-nature for former players, and not something they have to learn about, as someone who never played would. However, is that reason enough to give a former player an important position right away, over someone who has spent their entire adult lives working towards that goal?
It's very common nowadays to see former players thrust into such roles, particularly in the MLB and the NBA, where former players are being made managers/head coaches merely a few seasons after retiring, leaving others who have been steadily working their way up the ranks to wallow in the lower levels. It happens in the NFL, as well. Former linebacker Lofa Tatupu was given an assistant linebacker job with Seattle just three seasons after retiring, and there are many others who have forged a similar path.
One thing that's important to remember in all of this, is that just because one was a great player, it doesn't mean they would be a great coach. Just telling young players "okay, do what I did and you'll be fine" is not a recipe for success. That's not to say that all former players are incapable coaches, but history suggests that the ones who start at a lower level, or in a lower level on a team and work their way up do much better than, say, a former Penn State linebacker being automatically named the new linebackers coach would.
All of that being said, do you think there are any former Penn Staters out there who would make a good coach, right now? Which former Penn State football player do you think would be best in such a role? What role would it be? Can you think of any former players who would be perfect for a head coaching role?