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Former Penn State football assistant linked to Michigan State opening

Will one of James Franklin’s former assistant coaches soon be joining him in the Big Ten?



Former Penn State Football assistant, Charles Huff, James Franklin, Michigan State coaching opening
Oct 10, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff stands on the sideline prior to the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Indiana 29-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s only been two years since Michigan State football went 11-2 and won the Peach Bowl, but the program has since fallen into shambles. The Spartans are 7-9 since that 2021 season and officially fired head coach Mel Tucker this week amid ongoing sexual harassment allegations. Now in late September, the coaching carousel is in full swing in East Lansing. Many names have already been floated as potential candidates for the Michigan State coaching opening, including one former Penn State football assistant. Could former James Franklin disciple and current Marshall head coach Charles Huff soon be making his way up the coaching ranks?

Former Penn State assistant Charles Huff linked to Michigan State coaching opening

For the last two weeks, the college football world has closely watched the saga unfolding in East Lansing. Michigan State suspended head coach Mel Tucker without pay on September 10 due to an ongoing sexual harassment investigation. The school informed Tucker that it intended to fire him for cause, which it officially did on Wednesday.

Since this situation has been brewing over the last several weeks, college football insiders have had plenty of time to identify targets for the Michigan State coaching search. Several top candidates, like Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman, have publicly stated that they are not interested in the job.

But several interesting names are still out there, including a former Penn State football assistant coach. Last night, Brett McMurphy of the Action Network posted a list of candidates from his sources on social media. On top of likely names such as Duke’s Mike Elko or Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi, the list also included former Penn State football assistant and current Marshall head coach Charles Huff.

Is the James Franklin coaching tree ready to keep growing?

Charles Huff spent a season with James Franklin at Vanderbilt before rejoining his staff in Happy Valley in 2014. In four seasons as running backs coach and special teams coordinator, Huff was part of one of the most memorable teams in Penn State football history, the 2016 Big Ten championship squad. Of course, Huff’s lasting impact at Penn State was his role in recruiting Nittany Lion legend Saquon Barkley to Happy Valley.

Huff followed former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to Mississippi State in 2018 before spending two seasons on Alabama’s staff. Huff took over the Marshall program in 2021, where he’s led the Thundering Herd to 7-6 and 9-4 seasons in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The former Penn State football assistant had his name put on the map last year when he upset Notre Dame 26-21 in South Bend.

If Michigan State hired Charles Huff, it would be the first time a James Franklin assistant would join their former coach in the Big Ten. But several former Penn State football assistant coaches have made their way to the head coaching ranks in recent years, including Moorhead (Mississippi State, Akron), Ricky Rahne (Old Dominion), and Brent Pry (Virginia Tech).

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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