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Penn State’s coordinator carousel settles with Peach Bowl looming

Article Written by Mac Young

Originally Published on December 19th, 2023

Penn State and head coach James Franklin have settled on new coordinators for the 2024 season. Former Kansas OC Andy Kotelnicki will take over the offense and former Indiana head coach Tom Allen will take over the defense and linebackers.

Both coordinator positions became available for nearly opposite reasons. 

Penn State’s OC to begin 2023 was Mike Yurcich. He was dismissed mid-season after abysmal offensive outputs against Michigan and Ohio State.

The offense for most of the season, especially those two games, lacked explosiveness and creativity, something Kotelnicki should be able to fix.

Kotelnicki utilizes a spread concept, pro-style offense. Looking at what he was able to do at Kansas sparks excitement for what Penn State could become in 2024.

Kotelnicki uses loads of misdirection to fool defenses, utilizing different formations and motions. Watching some of the tapes reveals an offense that thrives on explosiveness and creativity, something that the Nittany Lions desperately need.

For some concrete numbers, Kotelnicki had the Kansas offense ranked seventh in the nation in yards per completion at just under 15 yards a catch, eighth in rushing offense with over 210 rush yards per game, eighth in yards per play with a tad over seven and eighth in explosive play percentage at 17.23% to name a few.

All of this with a Kansas team that does not come close in the recruiting rankings and transfer pull of Penn State. If Kotelnicki can build off his success at Kansas and bring it to Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions could have a lively offense ready for year one of the 12-team College Football Playoff.

The defense was a completely different story in 2023. Manny Diaz had the Nittany Lions flying around the field playing at a championship level on that side of the ball.

When coach Diaz joined Franklin’s staff for the 2022 season, many thought it would be short-lived. The former Miami head coach was run out of town down south, but many knew he had a brilliant defensive mind.

His success has not gone unnoticed as Diaz has now taken the job to be the next head coach at Duke.

In his place, Penn State has just hired Tom Allen. Allen has been the head coach at Indiana for the last seven seasons.

In 2020 he was named coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association. He brings 32 years of coaching experience to Penn State.

His defenses are known for being stout on third down, holding opposing teams to 36.6% during his time with the Hoosiers.

Both new coordinators will not be coaching in the upcoming Peach Bowl against Ole Miss but should be around the team and on the field during the contest.

This helped out Manny Diaz when he was hired just prior to the 2021 Outback Bowl. It allows the new coordinators to get acquainted with their players, maybe convincing them to stay in the process.

You certainly never know who’s coming or going in the transfer-portal era.

Penn State will take on Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl at noon on Dec. 30. The Nittany Lions will look to become the first team to ever win all six New Year’s bowl games.

Mac Young is a senior broadcast journalism major at Penn State.

To contact him email

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