When James Franklin left Vanderbilt to become head coach at Penn State earlier this month, Herb Hand stayed behind.
Franklin's trusted offensive line coach seemed like an early frontrunner to become the Commodores' next head coach, but even after it appeared the university would be looking at outside candidates to step in for Franklin, Hand stayed on the job. Somebody, after all, had to try to keep the program's gifted 2014 recruiting class from ruin.
When he had to make a decision on his own future, though, Hand evidently did what plenty of those recruits chose. He, too, is going to Penn State.
Hand distributed a message on his Twitter account Tuesday, thanking Vanderbilt and its fans for the opportunity to coach there. But he also made it clear the time to move on with his career had come. He didn't say where he'd continue, but Vanderbilt running backs coach Charles Bankins - who announced he is staying on with new coach Derek Mason's staff in Nashville - sent a tweet later in the evening, wishing Hand the best with the Nittany Lions.
Penn State has not formally announced any member of Franklin's new staff yet. But most of them aren't attempting to keep its construction a secret, either.
Official word on such hirings have traditionally moved at a glacial pace at Penn State, but in the digital age, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep excited young coaches quiet.
Seven coaches have stated on their Twitter accounts that they've already begun working as members of Franklin's staff, with many tweeting from the recruiting trail.
- John Donovan, Franklin's offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt.
- Bob Shoop, the defensive coordinator.
- Sean Spencer, the defensive line coach and Vanderbilt's recruiting lynchpin.
- Former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Gattis, who helped develop All-American Rashard Matthews at Vanderbilt as receivers coach last season.
- Quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne, who helped guide first-round pick Josh Freeman at Kansas State.
- Linebackers coach and assistant head coach Brent Pry, whose father Jim was Franklin's offensive coordinator at East Stroudsburg in the early 1990s.
- Running backs coach Charles Huff, a former Vanderbilt assistant who coached the running backs at Western Michigan in 2013.
The NCAA allows just nine full-time assistant coaches per football staff, so with those seven and Hand essentially coming from Vanderbilt, the Nittany Lions are at least close to having the full gamut of coaches on staff.
Smith was once one of the most notable high school coaches in the country during his days at Gateway High School near Pittsburgh, where he helped churn out big-time college prospects by the handful on a seemingly yearly basis.
One of them, his stepson Justin King, was a five-star prospect out of Gateway who went on to star at Penn State.