Larry Johnson

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56 college football assistants named nominees for 2017 Broyles Award

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College football’s award season is coming quickly with semifinalists and finalists for various awards coming in the next few weeks. Among the awards is the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant coach in college football. Today, the Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation released its list of nominees for this year’s award. All 56 of them, which is sure to keep more SIDs busy this time of year.

No school has more than one assistant nominated for the award and previous winners of the award from the past five seasons are not eligible. Clemson’s Brent Venables won the award last year, for example, so he is not eligible this season. This list of nominees will be trimmed to 15 semifinalists later this season, and that list will be cut down to five finalists for the award.

The Broyles Award was first awarded in 2010 to Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Malzahn is currently the head coach of the Tigers. In total, five Broyles Award winners have gone on to be a head coach, with four of those currently holding head coaching positions. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi (2013, Michigan State defensive coordinator), Texas head coach Tom Herman (2014, Ohio State offensive coordinator), and Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley (2015, Oklahoma offensive coordinator) currently hold head coaching jobs. Bob Diaco, who won the award in 2012 while at Notre Dame, went on to be named the head coach at UConn and currently is an assistant with Nebraska.

2017 Broyles Award Nominees

  • Alabama – Brian Daboll, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
  • Arizona – Rod Smith, Co–Offensive Coordinator
  • Arizona State – Phil Bennett, Defensive Coordinator
  • Arkansas State – Brian Early, Defensive Line Coach
  • Auburn – Kevin Steele, Defensive Coordinator
  • Boise State – Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Bowling Green State – Matt Brock, Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • California – Beau Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
  • Central Florida – Troy Walters, Offensive Coordinator
  • Clemson – Tony Elliot, Co–Offensive Coordinator, Running Backs
  • Eastern Michigan – Neal Neathery, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • FAU – Chris Kiffin, Defensive Coordinator
  • FIU – Brent Guy, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Fresno State – Orlondo Steinauer, Defensive Coordinator
  • Georgia – Mel Tucker, Defensive Coordinator
  • Georgia State – Nate Fuqua, Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers
  • Iowa State – Jon Heacock, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
  • Kansas State – Sean Snyder, Special Teams Coordinator
  • LSU – Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator
  • Memphis – Joe Lorig, Special Teams Coordinator; – Outside Linebackers
  • Miami – Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator
  • Michigan – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Michigan State – Harlon Barnett, Co–Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach
  • Mississippi State – Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Missouri – Josh Heupel, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
  • NC State – Dwayne Ledford, Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator
  • North Texas – Graham Harrell, Offensive Coordinator
  • Northwestern – Mike Hankwitz, Defensive Coordinator
  • Notre Dame – Mike Elko, Defensive Coordinator
  • Ohio State – Larry Johnson, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach
  • Oklahoma – Bill Bedenbaugh, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • Oklahoma State – Mike Yurcich, Offensive Coordinator/QBs
  • Ole Miss – Derrick Nix, Running Backs Coach
  • Oregon – Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator
  • Penn State – Brent Pry, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • San José State – Bojay Filimoeatu, Linebackers Coach
  • SMU – Joe Craddock, Offensive Coordinator
  • South Carolina – Coleman Hutzler, Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • Southern Miss – Tony Pecoraro, Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers
  • Stanford – Mike Bloomgren, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • Syracuse – Brian Ward, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
  • TCU – Chad Glasgow, Defensive Coordinator
  • Temple – Jim Panagos, Defensive Line
  • Texas – Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Toledo – Brian Wright, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
  • Troy – Vic Koenning, Defensive Coordinator
  • U.S. Military Academy – Brent Davis, Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • USC – Tee Martin, Offensive Coordinator/WR Coach
  • Utah State – Mark Tommerdahl, Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs
  • Virginia Tech – Bud Foster, Defensive Coordinator
  • Wake Forest – Warren Ruggiero, Offensive Coordinator
  • Washington – Pete Kwiatkowski, Defensive Coordinator
  • Washington State – Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator / Secondary
  • West Virginia – Tony Gibson, Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • Western Kentucky – Clayton White, Defensive Coordinator
  • Wisconsin – Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator

Ohio State assistant Larry Johnson not bitter, looks forward to return to Penn State

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Former Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has no bitter feelings about his previous employer, and he is looking forward to returning to Beaver Stadium this week.

Johnson is now a member of the Ohio State coaching staff. Urban Meyer was quick to pounce on Johnson after the longtime Penn State assistant stepped away form the program. Johnson had interest in the head coaching vacancy after Bill O’Brien left Penn State to coach the Houston Texans in the NFL, but Penn State opted to go with James Franklin. With Franklin bringing as much as his staff as possible from Vanderbilt, Johnson saw the writing on the wall and decided to move on from Penn State. Franklin made it clear from the day he was hired he is extremely loyal to his guys. That should have suggested Johnson was not coming back.

“I had a great time in 18 years at Penn State,” Johnson said Monday in a conference call with the media. “Made great friends and the great players I coached and have been a part of their lives for a long time. It’s a new job and a new place and a new school. So, I’m looking forward to coming back.”

Ohio State visits Penn State this weekend in a primetime Big Ten contest at Beaver Stadium. For the first time, Johnson will be coaching from the visiting sideline.

Penn State was hit hard by NCAA sanctions in recent years, but Johnson stepped up to keep things afloat as much as he possibly could. Johnson was named the interim head coach after O’Brien left for the NFL, but because this happened after the season Johnson’s job was more to keep the roster stabilized and keep the recruits calm. Johnson could have left Penn State a handful of times before for a more prominent role on a coaching staff as a defensive coordinator, but he stuck by Penn State through some tough times on and off the field. After giving the program as much as Johnson had, you could understand if Johnson had some hard feelings about Penn State after not being given a chance to be the head coach or even defensive coordinator, but he says that is not the case.

“There was no bitterness when I left,” Johnson said on Monday. “It was my decision to leave, it was my time to move on. I felt that, with Coach Franklin coming in with a new staff, he had a lot of guys he really liked a lot and I just felt it was the right thing to do to have a chance to step away from it for a while. It was a tough decision to make. But, looking back, it was the right decision to make. So, I have no bitterness at all.”

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 4 Ohio State

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(It should be noted this preseason ranking was determined before news of Braxton Miller being lost for the season.)

2013 Record: 12-2 overall, 8-1 in Big Ten (lost to Michigan State in championship game)
2013 postseason: Orange Bowl (40-35 loss to Clemson)
2013 final AP/coaches ranking: No. 12/No. 10
Head coach: Urban Meyer (128-25 overall, 24-2 in two years at Ohio State)
Offensive coordinator: Tom Herman (3rd year at Ohio State), Ed Warinner (3rd year at Ohio State)
2013 offensive rankings: 5th rushing offense (308.64 ypg), 90th passing offense (203.3 ypg), 7th total offense (511.9 ypg), 3rd scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 4*
Co-defensive coordinators: Luke Fickell (13th year at Ohio State), Chris Ash (first year at Ohio State)
2013 defensive rankings: 9th rushing defense (109.43 ypg), 112th passing defense (268.0 ypg), 47th total defense (377.4 ypg), 28th scoring defense (22.6 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 7
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Stadium: Ohio Stadium (104,944; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2010 (2009, outright)

THE GOOD
In a season that once appeared to be all about making the playoff or bust, the Buckeyes still look to have a very good shot at making a run at a Big Ten title despite losing starting quarterback Braxton Miller for the season. Losing Miller cannot be understated for the fortunes of this season, but more on that in a moment. What Ohio State does have is a roster that has been built by landing the top recruiting classes in the Big Ten each of the past four seasons, so the talent on the roster is not much of a concern for the Buckeyes as far as the Big Ten is concerned. One fo the downfalls of Ohio State last season was the defense not being strong enough to hold off a balanced opponent like Michigan State or slow down a potent offense like the one owned by Clemson. When push came to shove, Ohio State’s defensive line was the one being shoved in the clutch. That should change some this season with a focus on toughening up the defense. New defensive line coach Larry Johnson (from Penn State) will have an impact with the play of the defensive line, which could be the best in the Big Ten, with Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa up front and Noah Spence scheduled to return following a multi-game suspension. Ohio State’s opening games may be more difficult now, without Miller, but the Buckeyes should still be able to remain one of the favorites in the Big Ten’s East division.

THE BAD
The loss of Miller is without a doubt a major blow for Ohio State. Miller was Ohio State’s, and the Big Ten’s, best player when healthy and his contributions to the Ohio State offense will not be easy to make up. Miller was not only looking to improve with his passing abilities, but he was also the team’s leading rusher returning this season (1,283 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013). Ohio State should still be able to run the football this fall, but the loss of Miller has the potential to make Ohio State’s running game much less of a threat to opposing defenses. That is, until we see just how redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett adapts to his new responsibilities under center.

THE UNKNOWN
Ohio State has plenty of talent, but now head coach Urban Meyer is challenged to find a way to make everything come together in a different way than he may have been spending all summer doing. Meyer is a really good coach — one of the best in the country — but can he manage to keep Ohio State among the favorites for a playoff spot at the end of the year after losing Miller and lead running back Carlos Hyde (NFL) with a lack of significant experience in the backfield? Throwing an extra challenge into the equation this season is Ohio State does not have as easy a non-conference schedule to allow these things to be sorted out without concern. Ohio State faces a decent Navy team in the season opener in Baltimore, and then hosts a Virgina Tech team that should be improved this fall. A home game against Cincinnati could present a challenge to before getting into Big Ten play.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Penn State
The road game at Michigan State is still the highlight of the 2014 Ohio State schedule, and the non-conference slate should help show just what Ohio State will be this season. A road game at Penn State, in primetime, could be the first real challenge for the Buckeyes though, despite the Nittany Lions being a thin team when it comes to depth and Ohio State blasting their neighbors from the east 63-14 last fall. If Penn State stays healthy, they could pose a threat to Ohio State at home in a revenge situation. New head coach James Franklin has sparked the program a bit, and playing in front of 100,000 fans not cheering for you could be a challenge for a young quarterback like Barrett. Win this game, and Ohio State will prove to remain a top threat in the East.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: WR Devin Smith
Braxton Miller would have been the easy pick here, but with the quarterback ut of commission this fall the next best offensive player may end up being wide receiver Devin Smith. Smith should be one of the top receivers for the Buckeyes this fall as Ohio State’s leading returning receiver with 660 yards and eight touchdowns last fall.

* Not counting injured quarterback Braxton Miller

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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

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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.

Penn State coaching search kicks off with interview with Al Golden

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While most of the big news in the world of coaching searches centers on the latest developments surround the Charlie Strong watch at Louisville and Texas, Penn State is moving forward with their search for a replacement for Bill O’Brien. Miami head coach Al Golden will reportedly get the first crack to make an impression with the Nittany Lions.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Golden will meet with Penn State officials Saturday, a day after initially scheduled to meet about the open position. Snow in Pennsylvania on Friday altered travel arrangements for the two sides, forcing them to push the interview back to Saturday. Golden is considered one of the top candidates for the job but contrary to previous reports he has not been offered the job just yet.

Penn State was also rumored to prepared to interview Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, but nothing on that front has been confirmed. Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, is coaching Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl in North Carolina Saturday afternoon.

In the meantime, interim head coach Larry Johnson, one of the two holdovers on O’Brien’s staff form the Joe Paterno regime, has yet to interview for the positon, according to Bob Flounders of The Patriot News. On Friday, during a meeting and conference call with media, Johnson confirmed he would be interested in the position. The fact he has not interviewed for the job yet may not mean much. It is easier for Penn State to schedule a meeting with Johnson at more convenient times since he is located on the campus already. Making travel arrangements to coordinate interview times with other potential candidates puts these potential interviews on a different priority level.