This new offensive coordinator must be a home run hire to not only keep the offense together and out of the transfer portal, but also must lead Penn State’s offense into a future to be competitive, to not only make the 12-team College Football Playoff, but coach and recruit well enough to advance in it.
Immediately upon the offensive coordinator position opening, Penn State fans flocked to X (formerly twitter) to share their opinions about who Franklin should hire. Two names stood out as former Penn State coaches that I believe Penn State should NOT hire as offensive coordinator to move forward as a program.
Two Offensive Coordinator Candidates Penn State Football Should Avoid
Joe Moorhead is always brought up as a popular name because of his time at Penn State leading Penn State’s offense (an offense that featured Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley, and Chris Godwin, among others) to the 2016 Big Ten Championship.
Moorhead left after a second 11 win season in a row in 2017 to be the head coach at Mississippi State.
Since leaving, Moorhead has had stints at Miss St, as the Oregon offensive coordinator and as the head coach at Akron (where he currently is coaching). In his second season in Akron, however, Moorhead is 2-8 with an offense that ranks 10th in the MAC in points per game. In 2020 and 2021, Moorhead’s offense at Oregon ranked 42nd in points per game.
Akron’s starting quarterback also leads the team in rush attempts (McSorley ranked 2nd on the team and logged over 140 rush attempts in both 2016 and 2017 under Moorhead, Allar is on pace for 76 in 2023).
A bit of nostalgia keeps Moorhead on this list because of what Moorhead did with McSorley and Barkley, but I believe the time to bring Joe Moorhead back to State College has passed and Penn State would be better served looking elsewhere.
Former Penn State graduate assistant Joe Brady’s name is also brought up every time Penn State has had an offensive coordinator opening after Brady helped LSU’s passing game to the 2019 College Football national championship.
While Brady did not control that offense, he was the passing game coordinator for Joe Burrow and a record setting LSU passing attack. Since that season, however, Brady has moved to the NFL and turned down multiple opportunities to return to college football.
After serving as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator under Matt Rhule, Brady has been the Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons. Without experience in college recruiting, especially in the transfer portal era, and a lack of quantifiable success outside of the 2019 season with a team that was loaded to the brim with NFL talent, Brady is too risky of a hire for Franklin at this time.
Penn State needs a proven OC with play calling experience and recruiting prowess to push Penn State toward the 12-team playoff and beyond.
Although Penn State has a history with both Moorhead and Brady, James Franklin should look in a different direction for the Nittany Lions future at offensive coordinator.