Losing Joe Moorhead is no fun. We love Joe, we being both our Roar Lions Roar community and the Penn State community at-large. He revolutionized the Nittany Lion offense in a radical way, taking a unit that was a chore to watch under John Donovan and reaching heights never thought possible. It's not hyperbole to say that there have been multiple times over the past two years where it's looked like Penn State was the best offense in college football.
That transformation alone is worth writing 3,000 words about, but that's not what I'm here to focus on right now. Yes, losing Moorhead is going to suck. And a big reason for that is everything I just said. But perhaps an even more prominent reason is that he's leaving Penn State. Penn State simply hasn't lost many coordinators in their recent history. And when coordinators or other assistants did willingly move on, aside from Bob Shoop, no one really cared all that much.
One of the things we as a college football community consider when deciding on a coach's legacy these days is the coaching tree they leave in their wake. It takes about five seconds to find a current college football head coach who branches off of the Urban Meyer. Ohio State is losing coordinators constantly because that's just part of the machine that is college football. But look at what Meyer was able to do in response.
Urban Meyer? He replaced Tom Herman and Tim Beck with Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day. He replaced Chris Ash with Greg Schiano.
And those are only the most recent examples. Proving that a coordinator position is a springboard to greater things is the best way to make said position more attractive to talented candidates. There are few coaches who dream of being coordinators forever, so appealing to them by being able to put them in positions where they'll eventually be able to take a leap forward is an incredible recruiting tool.
What Joe Moorhead did in his time at Penn State was prove that the offensive coordinator job in Happy Valley is one of the best. And for good reason. James Franklin is an ace recruiter, and will always make sure the offensive cupboard is stocked with fun talent. The depth along the offensive line is rapidly improving to the point where it won't be a weakness much longer. And now, it's a job with a proven path to a major job in a power-five conference if you prove yourself worthy.
Losing good coaches will never be a fun experience. In a perfect world, Joe Moorhead would stay forever and be 100 percent content running the Penn State offense year in and year out. But that's not realistic.
So while it's normal to feel some sadness about knowing that we won't see our favorite bearded, skull cap wearer patrolling the sidelines next September, it's calming to remember that his departure is a sign that things are continuing to move in the right direction for Penn State. Hopefully, James Franklin will make another great hire (perhaps Moorhead's protege Andrew Breiner?). But even if he doesn't find the next Moorhead right away, the nature of this vacancy has been altered. This is a job that coaches will flock to, because of what it could represent for their careers. And if it all continues going according to plan, Penn State fans will continue to experience this exact dilemma every few years.
And that's okay. Because it's a sign that the Penn State machine is back to running at full capacity once again.