ShareThis Page
Penn State

Spotlight is shining on an unlikely PSU pair ahead of TaxSlayer Bowl

| Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, 6:45 p.m.
Penn State coach Ricky Rahne will be in the booth during the Taxslayer Bowl for his first game as the Nittany Lions' offensive coordinator.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State coach Ricky Rahne will be in the booth during the Taxslayer Bowl for his first game as the Nittany Lions' offensive coordinator.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — With six wins as the bare requirement, Penn State's postseason bowl appearance provided little surprise. The long shot was Ricky Rahne and Gregg Garrity sharing the media spotlight two days before the game.

Yet Thursday, both were targeted by reporters and cameras on a local high school field after the season's final practice. The Nittany Lions (7-5) play Georgia (9-3) in the TaxSlayer (formerly Gator) Bowl in nearby Jacksonville on Saturday.

Rahne has been quarterbacks coach under James Franklin for five seasons at Penn State and Vanderbilt. After John Donovan's firing in late November, he will be in the booth at EverBank Field calling plays for the first time in his career as the interim offensive coordinator.

Garrity's job description hasn't changed. A North Allegheny graduate and third-generation Nittany Lion, the junior walk-on remains a backup wide receiver and special teams player. But the confluence of coincidence and history has brought special attention.

Garrity's father, Gregg Sr., played a key role in Penn State's landmark win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl after the 1982 season. It was the first official national championship for Penn State and coach Joe Paterno. Garrity Sr., who himself started out as a walk-on and later played eight NFL seasons with the Steelers and Eagles, landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Rahne (pronounced RAH-nee), said he has enjoyed his new, albeit temporary role. Joe Moorhead, hired earlier this month, is well into assuming the regular duties.

Asked if he plans to put his stamp on the game plan, Rahne replied, “It's a little too late to make significant changes, but I think every play-caller, every coach, has their own personal touch they're going to put on the game and the game plan. So, yeah, there will be a few things, minor tweaks here and there.”

He added, “I've been able to put some personal touches in there.”

There were no specifics, of course.

“I just want us to go out there and play fast, play aggressive and play with a swagger knowing that we're prepared,” he said.

Rahne said he wants to be an offensive coordinator “one day.” Not only can Penn State end its season on a high note, he acknowledged “this is an important opportunity for me.”

Garrity's impending opportunities are harder to pinpoint. Listed at 5-foot-10, 157 pounds, he has caught one pass for 4 yards and returned two punts for 9 yards this season.

“Punt returning is something I've done since I was a little kid,” he said. “It's definitely something I'm comfortable with. Hopefully, I can make an impact in that aspect of the game.”

The match-up created a happy coincidence for the family — Gregg Jr.'s grandfather, Jim, also played for Penn State — reviving memories of his dad's diving, 48-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown catch from Todd Blackledge, the decisive score in a 27-23 win by the No. 2 Nittany Lions over the Bulldogs, previously unbeaten and ranked No. 1.

The schools have not met since.

“It's funny how things kind of worked out,” Garrity Jr. said. He said he “can't even count” the number of times he has viewed his dad's catch. We have all the Sports Illustrated covers in my house, all over the place,” he said. “It's definitely something you see growing up.

“It's a cool deal.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me