In January 2016, after Bob Shoop decided to leave Penn State for the greener(??) pastures of Rocky Top and the University of Tennessee, James Franklin wasted very little time in naming Brent Pry, who had coached linebackers with Franklin since their time at Vanderbilt, the team's new defensive coordinator. If James Franklin were to take a similar route in choosing a replacement for the departed Joe Moorhead, current tight ends (and former quarterbacks) coach Ricky Rahne, the odds-on favorite for an internal hire, will probably hear his name called sooner rather than later.
Candidate: Ricky Rahne
Current Position: Tight ends coach and passing game coordinator, Penn State
Prior Coordinator Experience: None
Rahne, who Franklin described as future coordinator before the 2017 season, has known the current Penn State head coach since 2006 when they were both a part of Ron Prince's coaching staff at Kansas State. He made the move to Nashville in 2011 when Franklin took over the reins at Vanderbilt, turning Aaron Rodgers' little brother Jordan into a serviceable SEC quarterback over a period of two years before guiding Austyn Carta-Samuels to a 69% completion percentage and nearly 2,300 yards passing in his senior campaign in 2013 (while missing three games).
Rahne followed Franklin to Penn State in 2014, where he had limited success with Christian Hackenberg in the John Donovan offensive scheme during his first two years as a Nittany Lion assistant. He took on playcalling duties in Penn State's TaxSlayer Bowl appearance against Georgia after Donovan's dismissal. When Moorhead was hired as offensive coordinator in January 2016, Rahne was shifted to tight ends coach, where he has helped Mike Gesicki become one of the best pass-catching tight ends to make their way through State College after a rocky 2015 nearly doomed his career. Even with the change in coaching focus, there's little doubt he helped Moorhead in the development of Trace McSorley and the evolution of the most exciting Nittany Lion offense since the 1990s.
The Cornell alumnus has experience coaching at all the offensive skill positions, leading the running backs at both his alma mater as well as in Manhattan, so he comes with the understanding of most of the pieces of an offensive scheme. It is highly doubtful that Franklin would want to stray too far away from a system that has brought him unparalleled levels of success over the past two years. Rahne provides a steady, experienced hand who has been able to learn from Moorhead since he got to Happy Valley in 2016. The one drawback would be that he is without coordinator experience in his decade-plus of coaching, but the first job has to come somewhere, right?