Posts tagged ‘Larry Johnson’

The Penn Stater Daily — Jan. 16, 2014

we are sculptureGifted: Check out the 2013 senior class gift. Shown here in a computer rendering, which was presented at today’s Board of Trustees meeting, the 12-foot, stainless steel “We Are” sculpture will be located on the east side of the IM Building, near the intersection of Curtin and University. Artist Jonathan Cramer ’94 was inspired by Philadelphia’s “LOVE” sculpture and the famous Chicago “bean.” Construction is set to begin this summer.

It’s official: Former assistant football coach Larry Johnson is headed to Ohio State. In today’s Centre Daily Times, current Penn State players explain how Johnson reached out to each of them throughout the past week: “He was just calling to check up on everybody, just to make sure everybody was OK mentally and seeing how their families were doing,” cornerback Jordan Lucas told the CDT’s Travis Johnson. Over at Onward State, staffer Zach Berger reflects on what Johnson’s departure means for the football program’s future: “Johnson leaves a hole that quite simply can not be filled. He is irreplaceable, both as a coach and a recruiter.”

Shedding light: A powerful documentary produced by a team of Penn Staters is about to reach an international audience. Directed by Penn State film professor Barbara Bird, Toward Daylight was selected for Culture Unplugged, an online film festival that has attracted more than 60 million viewers. The documentary explores suicide preventation and tells the personal stories of people affected by depression and suicidal thoughts. “As I researched the issue in Centre County, I was amazed by the number of people touched by suicide,” Bird told Penn State News. To view the full documentary, visit the film festival’s website.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

January 16, 2014 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Jan. 14, 2014

@jasonncorneliuss, via Onward State

@jasonncorneliuss, via Onward State

Snap happy: Just days after James Franklin arrived in State College, the student body seems to have already embraced Penn State’s new head football coach — and the proof is in the selfies. When Franklin made an appearance at last night’s men’s hockey game, which including some mingling in the student section, the camera phones were out in full force. Franklin was more than happy to strike a pose. Onward State ranked the 10 best photos here.

Moving on: In more serious football news, long-time defensive line coach Larry Johnson has announced he won’t return to Penn State. ESPN reported Monday that Johnson declined a position on Coach James Franklin’s staff. “Getting promoted isn’t the issue to me,” Johnson told “At the end of the day, it’s giving Coach Franklin the chance to move forward.” reports that Johnson in in talks with Ohio State, where he’s expected to join Urban Meyer’s coaching staff.

To good health: Back in 2011, we covered some interesting research from IST faculty member Erika Poole. Then, Poole was studying the impact of new video gaming systems (like Wii Fit and Kinect) on the rising rate of childhood obesity. Today, Poole is still helping people make healthier choices. In this story from today’s Penn State News, Poole talks about the personal inspiration behind her latest research, which is focused on the new crop of health-related mobile apps and devices. She’s working with other experts to design technologies that “fit into consumers’ daily lives,” she says, to create sustainable, healthy changes.

Suit yourself: In case you haven’t heard, Jan. 14 is officially National Dress Up Your Pet Day. The Penn State Bookstore’s (@PSUBookstore) tweeted a photo earlier this morning, of this disgruntled (yet dapper!) feline. Dogs and cats of the world, please accept our sincerest apologies.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

January 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Jan. 3, 2014

Brrrrr: Good day from Happy Valley, where it was 5 degrees when I got up to shovel my driveway this morning. Then I got to work and saw these guys hanging out in front of the Hintz Family Alumni Center. Guess I shouldn’t complain about the cold.


Stay warm out there, people.

The search is on: Pretty much all the news today focuses on Bill O’Brien’s departure and the search for a new head football coach. The majority of coverage among media who actually cover the Nittany Lions has been understanding of O’Brien’s decision, even as they acknowledge why the manner of his leaving has upset some. On this, I like the perspective of my friend Michael Weinreb ’94, writing for Sports on Earth.

Elsewhere, ESPN has a roundup of Twitter reaction from current and former players, as well as some recruits, that’s interesting to peruse. One future Lion, defensive back Marcus Allen of Maryland, is already endearing himself to Penn State fans, per this post on Lions 247:

“I’ve come to realize over the past 48 hours that Penn State isn’t a person. It’s a spirit and an idea. It’s the fans and the players and the coaches and the people who live in State College. The feeling I get when I visit State College isn’t due to one person, but my experience with everyone I have come in contact with. I feel truly blessed and humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence with Penn State Football. Thank you all for accepting me into the PSU family. Coach Johnson has shown me through this that a team player works hard and stays the course through adversity. I’ve learned a new life lesson before I even stepped foot on campus. WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Coach Johnson: That’s Larry Johnson, of course, the Lions’ long-time defensive line coach, who has been named interim head coach. The program posted a video message from Johnson on Facebook, and while it’s not clear whether Johnson is a candidate for the full-time job, a number of former players are rooting loudly for him to be considered. Short-term, Johnson’s biggest task is keeping Penn State’s 2014 recruits committed to the program.

Good luck, ARob: Whoever the Lions’ next head coach is, they’ll be without one of the best receivers in program history. On Thursday, Allen Robinson announced he’d bypass his senior season to enter this year’s NFL draft. We’ll miss him, but look forward to seeing him make big plays on Sundays.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm Leave a comment

As Bill O’Brien Might Say, “Next Man Up.”

One year ago, almost to the day, dozens of media members sat in the Beaver Stadium press room listening to Bill O’Brien explain—and, to an extent, defend—his interest in NFL jobs before finally reconfirming his commitment to Penn State. As I wrote at the time, O’Brien “hasn’t—and at this point, clearly won’t—put an end date on that commitment.”


On Thursday, Athletic Director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g sat in front of a slightly smaller group of media to confirm that O’Brien was resigning his post to take the same position with the NFL’s Houston Texans. You can read the university’s official statement on the search for O’Brien’s replacement here, but here’s the takeaway:

* A national search for O’Brien’s successor is already underway. The six-person search committee is led by Joyner and includes VP of administration Tom Poole ’84g, associate AD Charmelle Green, recreation, park and tourism management professor and faculty athletics representative Linda Caldwell, men’s soccer coach Bob Warming, and Football Letterman’s Club director Wally Richardson ’96, ’03g.

* Long-time defensive line coach Larry Johnson, now the only holdover from Joe Paterno’s staff, is leading the program on an interim basis.

* Emphasizing that he hopes for a quick resolution to the search, Joyner said the “atmosphere of this search is very different, much more attractive” than the drawn-out process that led to O’Brien’s hiring two years ago. “We were very deliberate then,” Joyner said. “We’re going to be deliberate this time, but much faster.”

* Joyner said Penn State has already been contacted by potential candidates or their representatives. “We have a tremendous amount of interest in this position,” he said, adding that there would be no official comment on potential candidates during the search process.

* Of O’Brien, Joyner was consistently complimentary. “I want to emphasize how happy we are for Coach O’Brien and this tremendous opportunity for him, and that we’re extremely grateful for the past two years,” Joyner said. He said he believed O’Brien came to Penn State with plans for a longer tenure—”We always worked on the future … things we could do to improve our program”—and that the coach “always had Penn State’s bests interests at heart.” Ultimately, Joyner said that while he believed Penn State made “every effort to make it attractive for him to stay … I believe he was presented with an opportunity that, for his family and his future, he just could not pass up.”

* Asked if he was hoping to find a coach who was likely to stick around beyond two seasons, Joyner said, “I think that’ll be very important. Consistency is important.”

* Joyner said that while a Penn State connection isn’t a prerequisite, it’s a factor the search committee would consider.

Here’s to a quick, thorough, and successful search.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Jan. 2, 2014

Signs of Change: On my walk to campus this morning—our first day back after the winter break, so Happy New Year, everyone—I came up Allen Street just as workers had finished stripping the Christmas tree at the Allen Street gates of its decorations.


About 90 seconds later, I hit the Dunkin Donuts on College and Fraser for my usual morning tea. I couldn’t help but notice the store had recently lost some decorations of its own.


Until a few days ago, the hand-painted words “O’Brien’s Lions” had taken up most of that window. I asked Cindy, the manager who usually has my order rung up before I reach the front of the line, about the loss of one of her regular early-morning customers—a guy who just happens to be the outgoing coach of the Penn State football team.

“He’s a really nice man,” Cindy said. “He would sign things, and he took a picture with just about everyone who worked here. It’s too bad, but he’s got a chance for his dream job. I don’t blame him.”

At an 11 a.m. press conference today, it’s expected that athletic director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g will confirm that Bill O’Brien is gone after two years in charge of the Nittany Lion football program; the Houston Texans are expected to make O’Brien’s hiring official sometime today as well. For now, the Centre Daily Times is reporting that longtime assistant coach Larry Johnson will oversee the program until a hire is made. There’s no telling who the new coach might be, but media outlets are already listing possible replacements. Among the popular names are a couple of former Lions, current Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak ’82 and current University of Miami coach Al Golden ’91.

I’ll have an update from Joyner’s press conference later today.

Belatedly: YES! We’ve been holding that in for almost two weeks now, ever since the women’s volleyball team won its sixth national championship—and fifth in the past seven years—with a four-set victory over Big Ten rival Wisconsin. If you missed it (or just want to relive the awesomeness), you can find photos and a game recap here, and some great video here. Congrats to coach Russ Rose and his team.

And finally, some New Year’s inspiration: Scuba diver, ski instructor, grad student, Paralympian, and Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 2013—good luck pigeonholing Maggie Redden ’07. The Newark Star-Ledger has a great profile of this accomplished alumna, a childhood polio survivor who was adopted from India and now lives one of those lives that make the rest of us look lazy.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 2, 2014 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

A Few More Thoughts on Bill O’Brien

The news hasn’t stopped since Bill O’Brien was announced Saturday as Penn State’s new football coach.

As he promised in his introductory press conference, O’Brien is working to fill out his coaching staff even as he completes his current job of preparing the New England Patriots’ offense for its playoff run. In addition to  defensive line coach Larry Johnson, O’Brien announced he will keep linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden from the Nittany Lions’ existing staff. It looks increasingly like the rest of O’Brien’s staff will come from elsewhere.

Already on board is Charles London, an offensive assistant with the Tennessee Titans with whom O’Brien coached at Duke; he’ll coach the Nittany Lion running backs. And reports Monday stated that O’Brien was set to name Ball State offensive line coach John Strollo (another former Duke colleague) and Buffalo Bills wide receivers coach Stan Hixon (with whom O’Brien coached at Georgia Tech) to his staff soon. Rumors abound about the makeup of the rest of the staff.

Opinions about O’Brien’s hiring abound as well, of course, and most have been (more…)

January 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm 4 comments

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