Ricky Rahne paused for a moment, biting his lower lip as his eyes grew red and started to water. He wiped away a single tear a few moments later, before the end of his first public remarks since being named Penn State’s new offensive coordinator.
The longtime assistant of James Franklin smiled wide throughout much of his 20-minute press conference Friday, calling the promotion his “dream job.” But, once he started discussing his family and sharing news of the job with them, his tone shifted.
“Talking with my mom and my mother-in-law, those are times when you can reflect,” he said, speaking slowly and deliberately. “For me, my wife’s family is from Pittsburgh. So for her to basically think we’re going to be here a good long time and she can see her grandsons grow up; for my mother-in-law, to be able to tell her I’m going to be here, that’s pretty special.
“And for my own mother,” he said, swallowing hard as tried to compose himself, “yeah, that was fun for me.”
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The job, the location, the family — Rahne intimated he couldn’t have been happier at Happy Valley. And his words proved sincere, as he couldn’t help but tear up at the thought of staying put for what he hopes is much longer.
“I feel like Coach Franklin right now,” he said, laughing through those watery eyes. “We only need one guy who cries at press conferences. We don’t need another one. But, yeah, it was pretty emotional.”
Rahne, the former tight ends coach, was officially named the offensive coordinator on Dec. 1 — a day after Joe Moorhead was introduced as Mississippi State’s new head coach. Rahne opened his remarks Friday with a laugh by saying that, no, he doesn’t plan to implement a fullback or a quarterback under center.
Instead, he said, he plans to build on Moorhead’s foundation. He won’t put in a new system, and the Nittany Lions won’t huddle up in the Fiesta Bowl. “There’s no need to fix what isn’t broke,” he said.
He doesn’t yet know whether he’ll coach from the sideline or the booth. But his players didn’t seem to mind much where he’ll end up coaching — as long as it’s still with Penn State.
“I’m really happy for Coach Rahne,” tight end Mike Gesicki said. “He deserves that more than anybody. He put so much time into the preparation and just everything that goes into our gameplan each and every week. He’s one of the smartest coaches on our staff, and I think he’s going to do a great job for us.”
Said wideout Juwan Johnson: “We’re going to have his back no matter what ... He’s a smart guy. I’m really excited for him. He knows the offense really well, so we’re really confident in him.”
Penn State’s players expressed relief that they wouldn’t have to learn a new system. And Rahne expressed his gratitude, several times, for the opportunity.
Rahne began his coaching career in 2004 as the assistant defensive line coach at FCS program Holy Cross. Two seasons later, he met Franklin as an offensive graduate assistant at Kansas State. They worked together for two seasons, and Rahne then followed him to Vanderbilt in 2011. They’ve been together ever since.
“The reality is, Ricky Rahne has been interviewing for this position since he was a graduate assistant for me at Kansas State,” Franklin said Friday. “So he’s been preparing and interviewing for this responsibility for a long time.”
Rahne said he’s been ready for this position. He felt prepared two years ago — he was the interim coordinator in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Georgia — and he feels even stronger about that now.
Under Moorhead, “it’s probably two of the best years of my life in terms of learning a different type of football,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready.”
He has the approval of Franklin, the confidence of his players — and the trust of his family. For Rahne, that’s all he can ask for.
“This is my dream job,” he said. “Being able to be the offensive coordinator at a palcel ike Penn State is an unbelievable opportunity, for me — and my family.”