Penn State Football

With Andy Kotelnicki on board, Penn State Football can shift to most important offseason priority

According to reports, Penn State Football filled its open offensive coordinator position Thursday, pulling Andy Kotelnicki away from Kansas and Lance Leipold.

Now, with the coaching staff filled — on paper — for 2024, Penn State and head coach James Franklin can shift to their most important offseason priority, keeping defensive coordinator Manny Diaz in Happy Valley for at least one more year.

Where Manny Diaz Diaz stands

Unsurprisingly, Penn State Football defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s name has popped up around the country for different vacancies since the season ended, both as a head coach and as a defensive coordinator. Monday, Bruce Feldman of the Athletic reported that Diaz “may be in play” for Duke’s head coach opening. Diaz’s name was also floated for USC’s defensive coordinator position early on, but that news has seemed to be squashed at this point.

Duke seems to be the biggest threat at the moment for Diaz’s services, as Diaz has already reportedly interviewed for the position, suggesting at least some mutual interest.

Why Penn State Football retaining Manny Diaz is so important

Although Penn State’s defense has been highly regarded nationally for years under James Franklin, Diaz’s hiring and subsequent leadership of that unit “took it to another level” according to Franklin.

The numbers absolutely back up that quote as well, as Penn State’s defense was top five in the nation in most defensive categories this season.

In 2023, Penn State’s defense ranked first in the nation in total defense, sacks, opponent first downs, passing touchdowns allowed, and rushing yards per play allowed.

Penn State Football also ranked second nationally in passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, team tackles for a loss, and turnovers gained.

2023 Manny Diaz Defense:
1st in the country:
Total Defense
Opponent first downs
Passing touchdowns allowed
Rushing yards per play allowed

Passing yards allowed
Rushing yards allowed
Team tackles for a loss
Turnovers gained

Fumbles recovered
Scoring defense

— Penn State FB Thoughts (@PSU_FB_Thoughts) November 27, 2023

Diaz’s defense has been disruptive and given Penn State a chance to win in every game this season. In fact, according to Brent Penn State holds the nation’s longest streak holding an opponent under 30 points, a staggering 17 game streak dating back to the 2022 Ohio State game.

Most consecutive games allowing less than 30 points

Penn State 17
Georgia 13
Florida State, Michigan 12
Miami (Ohio) 11
Alabama, New Mexico State, Troy, Wisconsin 10
Clemson, Iowa, James Madison 8
Toledo, UTSA 7
NC State, Oregon 6

— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 29, 2023

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What Penn State Football can do to help retain Diaz

Top defensive coordinators are in extremely high demand in college football and so is the price for their services.

Friday, Nebraska announced the restructuring of defensive coordinator Tony White’s contract to increase his pay to $1.6 million per year, after White’s name also surfaced for USC’s open defensive coordinator position.

In Columbus, Jim Knowles, who is also a candidate for the Duke head coaching position, reportedly made $1.957 million in 2023.

Although Penn State Football does not release assistant coach salaries publicly, the Nittany Lions would likely need to be around that $2 million per year mark to entice Manny Diaz to stick around for another year.

At Duke, Mike Elko earned $2.1 million with his first contract with the Blue Devils, before an extension increased his salary to $3.5 million. While Penn State Football could not match the latter number, getting Diaz around the $2 million mark could be enough to convince him to stick around and wait for another offer after next season.

Tony White has an increased in his salary as Nebraska Defensive coordinator ($1.6 million)

— CFB Home (@CFBHome) December 1, 2023

Since becoming the athletic director at Penn State, Pat Kraft has been working with James Franklin every step of the way to do everything Penn State can do to retain key staff members and hire top candidates at every open position.

The program alignment is there to make Diaz one of the highest paid defensive coordinators in college football, Penn State fans will just have to wait and see whether that is enough to keep Diaz away from Duke or another head coaching position this year.

MORE: Manny Diaz’s Best Head Coaching Fits this Offseason

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Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.