I woke up on the last day of January 2020, what seems like the longest month in existence, to a text from my cousin that read, “Hearing rumblings of Coach Spencer on the move…” Not the greatest text to wake up to on a Friday. Then, the Centre Daily Times reported that Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer had accepted a job with the New York Football Giants. He will be doing the same job for them that he has done so well for the Nittany Lions since arriving on staff in 2014. With his departure let’s look back at how well of a job he has done and what the future may hold.
Penn State Coach Sean Spencer: Lasting Impact
The Penn State Nittany Lions were ranked 36th in the country in rushing defense in 2014. Further, the Nittany Lions were tied for 39th in team sacks. Granted, this is all while sanctioned by the NCAA and at a scholarship deficit, but still not great. Finally, Penn State wasn’t even in the top 50 for tackles for loss. Coach Spencer, or “Coach Chaos” as he’s known in Happy Valley, changed all of that. In just one season, Carl Nassib became a unanimous All-American in 2015. After the 2016 season, Penn State’s defense was tied for first in total team sacks. In addition, the “Wild Dogs” were ranked 6th in the nation in tackles for loss. Two seasons prior to that the Nittany Lions weren’t even in the top 50 in that category.
The last two seasons Spencer has had Penn State finish in the top ten in team sacks. This season was arguably the best yet under Spencer. The Nittany Lions ranked fifth in rushing defense. A statistic that Penn State was not even cracking the top 50 in a season ago. He also got the Nittany Lions back to 11th in tackles for loss. There is also a long list of “Wild Dogs” that have received post-season honors under Spencer. Most recently being Robert Windsor, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Shaka Toney.
The search for a new defensive line coach will likely start right away, or it already has. With the talent that is returning at the defensive line position, it is unlikely that James Franklin will leave this position open long. Toney, Jayson Oweh, PJ Mustipher, Antonio Shelton and Adisa Isaac will all be back for the 2020 season. Coach Spencer has left these players and the rest of the returners on defense with the tools to succeed.
All in all, thank you for your time Coach Spencer. You have truly made the last six years enjoyable to watch on and off the field. Wishing you all the best with the New York Giants.