The system wasn’t going to change. Not after Joe Moorhead’s scheme worked so well for Penn State over the last two seasons.
So the Nittany Lions are doubling down on it.
Penn State announced Friday that position coach Ricky Rahne would be promoted to replace Moorhead as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Rather than bring in a new coordinator from the outside and have him learn the offense, Lions coach James Franklin went with the top internal choice in Rahne, who spent the past two seasons learning from Moorhead, who left to become head coach at Mississippi State this week.
“Ricky is one of the rising stars in college football,” Franklin said through the school. “He is extremely sharp, driven and has a great rapport with our players. He has been very involved in our offensive scheme the last two years, which is why I anticipate our offense will continue to thrive under Ricky.”
On top of that, the Lions announced they are adding Maryland offensive line coach Tyler Bowen — a former Penn State graduate assistant — as tight ends coach. Bowen already knows the offense when he worked as Moorhead’s offensive line coach at Fordham in 2015 and was then promoted to the Rams offensive coordinator in 2016 after Moorhead went to Penn State.
The Lions also announced that defensive consultant Phil Galiano, who joined the staff this past season, would be promoted to full-time coach as special teams coordinator. Galiano replaces Charles Huff, who officially joined Moorhead as running backs coach and assistant head coach at Mississippi State on Friday.
Two other offensive assistants, receivers coach Josh Gattis and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover, received some added titles that are usually indicative of a bump in pay.
No other Lions assistants are expected to follow Moorhead.
Though Moorhead is gone, the Lions have set things up so his impact will be felt for years by having Rahne pick up where he left off.
Franklin had long expected Moorhead to be in demand as a head coach and seemed to have Rahne in mind as a potential replacement as far back as preseason camp, when he referred to him as “fiercely loyal” and “a future coordinator.”
Rahne, 37, is eager to pay back that faith.
“I am extremely honored and grateful for the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator at Penn State,” Rahne said. “Ever since arriving on campus, I’ve hoped that one day I would earn a chance to lead the offense at Beaver Stadium.
“I’ve been blessed to learn from some of the best offensive minds in the game. That knowledge gives me confidence that our talented and hard-working players, combined with a terrific coaching staff, can continue to build on our recent success.”
As Moorhead did before him, Rahne will work directly with the quarterbacks, a position he held for his first five seasons on Franklin’s staffs at Vanderbilt and Penn State. He moved to tight ends coach in 2016 when Moorhead came aboard.
Bowen will now take over the tight ends having crossed paths with both Franklin and Moorhead throughout his career.
The Georgia native played offensive line at Maryland when Franklin was an assistant with the Terrapins and Franklin brought him to Happy Valley as a graduate assistant in 2014 before he spent two years at Fordham and this past season at his alma mater.
“Tyler is a young man I have known for many years,” Franklin said. “He has a high football IQ and tremendous passion for the game that will impact our student-athletes on a daily basis. He has history with our offensive scheme, which will help this be a seamless transition.”
“From the first time that my wife, Ginny, and I were on campus in 2014, we knew this was a special place full of special people, special players and special fans,” Bowen said. “I am honored and privileged to be back at Penn State, where we can continue to build on the foundation that coach Franklin and this staff have cultivated.”
The other new addition, Galiano, was officially listed as a defensive consultant for the Lions in 2017. A Norristown native who played collegiately at Shippensburg, Galiano was Rutgers’ special teams coordinator in 2015 and was an assistant special teams coach in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and 2013.
Galiano was also defensive coordinator at FIU from 2007-09 and will assist Sean Spencer on the defensive line in his new role with the Lions.
”Phil brings a variety of experiences at both the college and professional levels as a special teams and defensive coordinator,” Franklin said. “He has been a valuable addition to our staff as a defensive consultant this season. Throughout his career, Phil’s special teams units have had success at all levels and I know he will bring our special teams unit to another level.”
Penn State’s staff is now back up to a full nine-man complement. The NCAA will allow teams to hire a 10th assistant in January, at which point the Lions will likely add a running backs coach.
Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse