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With Franklin at Penn State, what happens next for Larry Johnson?

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar AP

One of the first staff decisions Bill O’Brien made official once he was introduced as Penn State’s head coach two years ago was retain defensive line coach Larry Johnson. He announced the news during his introductory press conference. Will James Franklin be doing the same?

Johnson is an unbelievably loved and respected coach to Penn State players so it was no surprise he received plenty of support to become the new Penn State head coach when the job was still vacant. Johnson was named the interim head coach after O’Brien left for the Houston Texans and was one of the two holdovers from Joe Paterno‘s coaching staff. Johnson’s responsibilities were with the defensive line but his overall impact on the recruiting trails have been well documented since arriving at Penn State.

When asked about his interest in the job opening, Johnson confirmed he would be interested in being named the head coach at Penn State. When it became clear Franklin was the target for the Nittany Lions, Johnson was reportedly disappointed in the developments. According to The Patriot News, Johnson did interview for the job and is committed to fulfilling his interim duties until no longer needed. Where it gets interesting from there is how Johnson handles being passed over for a promotion once again.

Johnson has turned down an opportunity for an expanded role elsewhere to remain at Penn State in his role as defensive line coach and top recruiter. When Tom Bradley did not get the job at Penn State some had hoped Johnson would before O’Brien was hired. Again, once O’Brien left there was a section of fans and players who pledged their support for Johnson to get the job. Now comes an interesting point in time where Johnson must see if there is a place on Franklin’s staff available, and what position might that be?

Vanderbilt had a respectable defense under the guidance of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. The Commodores were generally outmatched when it came to talent level, but Vanderbilt ranked in the top half of the SEC in rushing defense, passing defense and total defense in 2013. Vanderbilt was also one of the top defenses when it came to turnovers forced, sacks and tackles for loss. If Shoop makes the move to Penn State with Franklin, how would Johnson respond? You coudl probably forgive him if he feels slighted, although it should be a priority by Penn State to do what they can to keep him a part of the staff in some capacity he is comfortable with.

To his credit, Johnson has taken on the role of good and loyal soldier at Penn State under extreme circumstances without asking for too much in return. If he wanted to leave the program by now, he would have been able to find a spot elsewhere in a moment’s notice. Johnson will make a very good assistant coach for some program in 2014. Whether that is at Penn State or not is one of the first questions Franklin will have to answer.

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18 Responses to “With Franklin at Penn State, what happens next for Larry Johnson?”
  1. bat42boy says: Jan 11, 2014 1:44 PM

    Looks like he would be a good choice for Vanderbilt’s new head coach. How ironic would that be to shove it in Penn States face.

  2. meatcarroll says: Jan 11, 2014 1:46 PM

    He should be in jail and disgraced like the rest of the goons who protected Jerry Sandusky.

  3. longtallsam says: Jan 11, 2014 1:59 PM

    Just from seeing his picture, one thing probably working against him getting a head coach job, is his obesity. Being a big fat slob doesn’t present a good image, no matter how good a coach you are. Also, just being a line coach and not a defensive coordinator, I would think he would be looking for a coordinator’s position first.

  4. classyjacklambert says: Jan 11, 2014 2:10 PM

    Longtallsam that doesn’t really translate to head coaches. Just look at Phillip Fulmer, Bobby Bowden, Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid and John Madden.

  5. longtallsam says: Jan 11, 2014 2:26 PM

    I didn’t say there wern’t any overweight head coaches. I am just saying, everything else being equal, the image you present can have an effect.

  6. lbijake says: Jan 11, 2014 2:30 PM

    bat42boy says:
    Jan 11, 2014 1:44 PM

    Looks like he would be a good choice for Vanderbilt’s new head coach. How ironic would that be to shove it in Penn States face
    ———————————————————-Do not think Penn State would be offended. Johnson is a great coach and recruiter who has shown great class throughout this ordeal. He is entitled to pick his own landing spot. A caveat with any coach the p[layers support, some times you do not want players to be comfortable but rather on edge to prove they belong.

  7. thegeneral7694 says: Jan 11, 2014 2:36 PM


    I agree with Longtallsam. All the coaches you named are pro coaches except Fulmer and Bowden…pro coaches don’t recruit, so their image is a lot less important. Bowden was never terribly big, and certainly wasn’t until his later years when he was already a legend. Fulmer is really the only exception I can think of…otherwise, obese guys don’t succeed as college head coaches (see Weis, Charlie). If Larry Johnson (or anyone else) wants to sell themselves, they can start by projecting a sellable image. Looking like you have another stomach protruding from below your waist is not an image that anyone wants to buy. May be unfair, but it’s reality…

  8. thefiesty1 says: Jan 11, 2014 2:43 PM

    There’s always Mangino for obese head coaches that fail.

  9. @Cereal_22 says: Jan 11, 2014 3:45 PM

    Haters gonna hate

  10. stairwayto7 says: Jan 11, 2014 3:57 PM

    Wish L.J. would stay however I think he is gone.

  11. harbourimages says: Jan 11, 2014 5:05 PM

    Hoke has done a great job of recruiting for us at Michigan and he’s not exactly “thin.”

  12. teambringitstrong says: Jan 11, 2014 5:40 PM

    LOL. The keyboard gangsters have joined forces with the keyboard fitness experts.
    The most narrow-minded, bigoted comments I have seen this year. #Stupid.

  13. longtallsam says: Jan 11, 2014 10:39 PM

    harbourimages says: Jan 11, 2014 5:05 PM
    Hoke has done a great job of recruiting for us at Michigan and he’s not exactly “thin.”

    I never said they had to be thin, just not a fat slob like Charley Weis. From the photo, it looks like Johnson may be near that category.

  14. steeler1nation says: Jan 12, 2014 1:08 AM

    What a ND article — with all the praise for this lazy, spineless coward. Larry Johnson, Sr., Tom Bradley, and Dottie Sandusky should all be in jail. They ALL KNEW what Jerry Sandusky was doing, yet did NOTHING to stop him. These PSU lifers didn’t want to disrupt their cushy lifestyles in Creepy Valley. Johnson is also lazy and not too bright, according to my friend who worked in the football office from 99-07. Disgusting, PSU…just disgusting.

  15. steeler1nation says: Jan 12, 2014 1:10 AM

    * crap (not ND)

  16. El Pollo Loco says: Jan 12, 2014 10:29 AM

    Ralph Frigen was fat as a cow but did ok

  17. ccvikes says: Jan 12, 2014 10:29 AM

    stairwayto7 says:
    Jan 11, 2014 3:57 PM
    Wish L.J. would stay however I think he is gone.

    17 5
    Coaches don’t stay anywhere forever. He has been fortunate enough to be there as long as he has. Maybe a change of scenery would make him a viable HC candidate again.

  18. youcantmakemepickausername says: Jan 12, 2014 12:48 PM

    I can’t believe i’m venturing into this stupid argument, but to the two people using Charlie Weis as an example of “fat” coaches not being able to recruit, I think you’re completely wrong about him.

    In fact, and I’m not a ND fan so they can feel free to correct me, but I think the exact opposite is true: He recruited quite well (“hi there recruit, I’m Charlie Weis, I used to be in New England where I coached a guy you might’ve heard of named Tom Brady, so come to Notre Dame”). It was just the actual coaching the game part where he wasn’t very good.

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