Update: Auburn has officially hired Herb Hand. In a statement, Hand said "My family and I are extremely excited to join the Auburn football family and be a part of a program with such great tradition and history. We’re especially excited to rejoin Coach Malzahn and work with him again. It was an opportunity that was way too good for us to pass up. I want to thank Coach James Franklin and the Penn State football program for two great years and I wish them nothing but the best moving forward."
Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand is reportedly heading to Auburn to take the same position on Gus Malzahn's staff. This news comes on the heels of the announcement that defensive coordinator Bob Shoop left his Penn State post for the same position at Tennessee, marking the second coaching departure from head coach James Franklin's staff in a week. The news was first reported by Dan Wolken of USA Today and has since been reported by several other members of the national media.
Hand came to Penn State from Vanderbilt about two weeks after Franklin was announced as the replacement for Bill O'Brien. At the time, he was considered one of the most important pieces on Franklin's newly formed staff, with him being a key recruiter and coaching a position group considered to be a major question mark. Hand quickly endeared himself to the fan base with his big personality, social media presence, and cooking talents.
The offensive line continued to be a concern throughout Hand's two-year tenure, though it was tough to determine whether talent or coaching was to blame. Even with the struggles, Hand was still considered a valuable member of the staff and one of Franklin's closest allies.
When Shoop left, many observers noted that the staff had an obvious replacement already in linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Brent Pry. Sure enough, it was quickly announced that Pry would take up Shoop's post. In this case, there is no obvious replacement for Hand. We are not prepared to speculate on who Franklin might tap as a replacement, but expect a longer turnaround on this decision than with the Pry decision.
Best of luck to Herb moving forward.