Contrary to popular belief, the sky is not falling in Happy Valley. That anti-narrative though may be difficult to defend with the latest in what seems to be a continuing string of departures under the watch of head coach James Franklin. Jim Haslett, who has been serving in the role of a consultant at Penn State for the past year, is on his way back to the NFL to be a part of the coaching staff with the Cincinnati Bengals. Haslett will be the new linebackers coach for the Bengals.
The loss of Haslett is yet another departure from the football staff at Penn State, but is hardly a supporting piece of evidence in the case against the stability of the Franklin regime after two years. Penn State lost defensive cooridnator Bob Shoop and offensive line coach Herb Hand to lateral moves at Tennessee and Auburn, respectively. Franklin also fired offensive cooridnator John Donovan at the end of the regular season. Replacements for all three positions have already been filled. On top of a helpful portion of early departures and transfers, the narrative surrounding Penn State seems to be Franklin is losing control of the ship, but it may still be a tad premature to suggest Franklin’s seat is getting hotter in Happy Valley. Haslett leaving for the NFL is certainly nothing to get up in arms about given his own track record.
Since 1988, Haslett has held 13 different titles ranging from head coach to defensive coordinator to consultant. His one year as a consultant at Penn State was always supposed to be seen as a temporary gig for Haslett, who had been fired as defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins and still carried some level of NFL coaching acumen. Some may have thought he would have been an interesting addition as Penn State’s defensive coordinator on Franklin’s staff following the loss of Shoop, but Brent Pry was promoted from the current staff to take on the role instead, while Haslett was more likely to leave for a job in the NFL anyway.