Ed Puskas: ‘Coordinated’ departures bring changes to YSU

Christmas brought presents for two former Youngstown State assistant coaches in the form of new jobs.

Now Penguins head coach Bo Pelini has a couple of important hires to make.

Bo’s older brother Carl — his defensive coordinator for three seasons in their hometown and previously at Nebraska — left for the same job at Bowling Green last week.

There had been talk YSU would be in the market for a new coordinator, but the conjecture was that the job opening would be on the other side of the ball, where veteran offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery was supposedly on the way out.

Montgomery, a holdover from the staff of former Penguins head coach Eric Wolford, had reportedly been a candidate for the Robert Morris head coaching job, which eventually went to former NFL linebacker Bernard Clark.

But even so, rumors persisted that Montgomery would be coaching elsewhere in 2018.

The official word came Tuesday, when UNC Charlotte announced the hiring of Montgomery as the 49ers offensive coordinator under head coach Brad Lambert.

Like the Pelinis, Montgomery is from Ohio. But the Newark native played college football at North Carolina State and began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant. He has roots there, so the move makes sense.

Montgomery said goodbye to the Valley via Twitter on Tuesday night.

“I want to personally thank all the people that I’ve had a chance to interact with over the last 8 years as part of the YSU Football program! My family and I will miss YSU and the Youngstown community! # gopenguins,” he tweeted.

So where might Bo Pelini turn to replace both his coordinators? He might not have to look far and wide on defense.

Ron Stoops Jr. is the special teams coordinator and works with the Penguins’ linebackers. He is a veteran YSU assistant — dating back to the Wolford era — and has run the defense before. He also brings the Stoops coaching pedigree.

Secondary coach Richard McNutt also might be an in-house candidate. His DBs were a major reason the Penguins led the FCS in pass defense in 2015 and ’17). McNutt was a three-year starter at cornerback at Ohio State from 2000-02 — under the current YSU President Jim Tressel — and has coached in FBS and the NFL.

There also is the possibility that Bo Pelini might just run the defense himself. Like McNutt, he’s a former Buckeyes DB who lives and breathes defense. Pelini probably signs off on everything the Penguins do on that side of the ball anyway.

The possibilities for YSU’s offensive coordinator do not seem as obvious yet.

Montgomery presided over the four best single-season offensive performances in the Penguins’ history (2-11, ’16, ’10 and ’17), so do not underestimate what he brought.

YSU rushed and passed for 2,000-plus yards in each of his eight seasons. The Penguins advanced to the FCS title game last season and won 18 games over the last two years despite almost non-stop injuries at quarterback.

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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