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Which PSU assistants could become head coaches?

Mike Yurcich, Brent Pry, Ja'Juan Seider, Tyler Bowen

Penn State has had a whole bunch of turnover on the coaching staff during James Franklin’s tenure, something the program never saw for decades during the Joe Paterno era.

But change is the name of the game in the coaching ranks these days. So many of these assistant coaches are nomads, moving around from place to place to place to place to place to place to …

OK, you get the idea.

Any time a coaching move is made, I spend a good bit of time looking at the new guy’s resume — where he’s been, how long he stayed at each place, how big of a jump did he make with each move.

It’s staggering, honestly, when you see how many stops each guy has made in his career, because it makes you wonder if these coaches can ever truly find a home in their professional and personal lives, or if their entire reason for being in coaching is to keep moving on, keep relocating their families time and time again.

Take, for instance, this assistant coach’s resume. PSU fans should be able to figure out who he is pretty easily, but I removed his coaching titles just to make it a tiny bit more challenging.

Coaching Career

2014-present – Penn State

2011-2013 – Vanderbilt

2010 – Georgia Southern

2007-09 – Memphis

2002-06 – Louisiana-Lafayette

1998-01 – Western Carolina

1995-98 – Virginia Tech

1993-94 – East Stroudsburg

That resume, of course, belongs to defensive coordinator Brent Pry, and you’ll see he’s coached at eight different schools in the past 28 years

To some, including me, it’s a surprise that Pry is still at Penn State after seven years. He’s excellent at his job, which has made him a candidate for some head coaching jobs, but he has opted each time to stay with Franklin at PSU.

That doesn’t mean Pry won’t leave and be a head coach somewhere else at some point. Just like Ricky Rahne, Charles Huff and Joe Moorhead, three former PSU assistants who have gone on to become college head coaches: Moorhead at Mississippi State, Rahne at Old Dominion and now Huff at Marshall.

As we look over Franklin’s current staff, let’s try and find the most likely candidates to be a college head coach. I’ve ranked them here in the order in which I could see them getting that opportunity.

1: Mike Yurcich

Aside from Moorhead, Pry has always been the most likely PSU assistant to land a head coaching job the quickest. But that label now goes to Yurcich, hired less than two weeks ago as the Lions’ new offensive coordinator.

Yurcich could be gone this time next year, taking over a program of his own. That’s if he lives up to his billing and brings a dynamic, high-scoring offense to Penn State this year.

You know how they say “defense wins championships,” well, that still may be true to a degree, but there’s no denying this: Offense will you get a head coaching job.

Franklin reportedly wanted to hire Yurcich last year, but the coordinator went to Texas instead. When Longhorns coach Tom Herman was fired and Yurcich was available again, Franklin didn’t let the fact that Kirk Ciarrocca had only been around one year get in the way.

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Franklin made a swift and stealth move by hiring Yurcich, knowing full well what it could mean — that Yurcich very well could be a short-timer in Happy Valley. If he performs, other college teams will come after him next year, and the next, and the next, until Yurcich finally feels that the opportunity and the money are right.

From my view, the only way Yurcich remains at Penn State longer than three years is if his offense fizzles. And I don’t see that happening.

Franklin knows he has a brief window to try and make everything click while Yurcich is on the staff. Because Franklin has been a coaching nomad throughout his career, as well, and he knows how all of this works better than anyone.

2: Brent Pry

Pry is an Altoona native and has a lot of extended family in the region. Maybe that’s part of the reason he’s decided to stay at Penn State so long. Or maybe he just got tired of moving his family around so much and has decided to make this their home for a longer period of time than anyone ever expected.

Pry also makes a lot of money. Exactly how much is unclear, but it’s a lot. Public figures show his salary to be $786,000, but I’ve heard from people who say the overall number could be closer to $1.5 million or more.

Pry’s name has been linked to head coach openings at Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette (now just Louisiana) in recent years.

For some comparison, the current Louisiana coach, Billy Napier, makes $880,000 plus incentives, so he’s probably pulling in just over a million all told. If Pry is making what we think he’s making at Penn State, he’d have to take a pay cut in order to become a head coach at that level of school.

Pry is 50 years old, and if he truly wants to be a head coach somewhere, he could do so. But he’s got a good situation at Penn State in so many ways, so he can be patient and discerning until the perfect opportunity comes along.

3: Ja’Juan Seider

It’s certainly possible that Seider could become a head coach even sooner than Pry, depending on how patient the latter chooses to be.

Seider’s name came up recently as a potential candidate for the job at Marshall, but that went to the former PSU assistant, Charles Huff.

Seider, PSU’s running backs coach, is a tremendous recruiter who has a strong resume. He was a high-level player himself — playing at West Virginia and Florida A&M — and has coached at prominent places such as Florida and West Virginia.

The only knock on Seider is that he’s never been a coordinator, and it’s tough to become a head coach without coordinator experience. I could see him leaving Penn State in a year or two to be an offensive coordinator somewhere else, then perhaps getting a head coaching job down the road.

4: Tyler Bowen

Bowen is the co-offensive coordinator, and he’ll get a chance to learn from a highly accomplished guy in Yurcich this season. That will help him greatly in his career. He also worked under Moorhead at Fordham, so he’s already accumulated a wealth of offensive knowledge.

Bowen, who coaches the tight ends and is the offensive recruiting coordinator, can do a lot of things and is highly respected by Franklin. He has a bright future ahead of him, and with more experience, he’ll have a chance to run his own offense somewhere and then possibly turn that into a head coaching opportunity.

5: Tim Banks

Banks is PSU’s co-defensive coordinator and coaches the safeties. He has served as defensive coordinator at Illinois and Central Michigan, and co-defensive coordinator at Cincinnati.

He obviously has tons of experience as a coach and as a coordinator, all of which could put him in the running for a head coaching job at some point. If Pry were to leave sometime soon, Banks could be in line to become PSU’s defensive coordinator, which could serve as another springboard to a head coaching job.

Other possibilities

**I’ve always been very high on Terry Smith and believe he would be a good college head coach. He’s an excellent leader who would be a great representative for a college program. He’s also an assistant head coach and defensive recruiting coordinator, so he’s able to handle a lot of responsibilities.

**WR coach Taylor Stubblefield just finished his first season at Penn State and has coached receivers since 2007. He may want to try his hand as an offensive coordinator at some point, which would put him on track to possibly being a head coach down the road.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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