Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

LJ on the record

In case you hadn't heard, Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson ain't goin' nowhere. You can scroll down to see my initial post. But I spoke to the man an hour ago so there's no further need for sourcing. Here's the transcript of my Q&A with LJ. The full story will be in tomorrow's newspaper or online for those too cheap (just kidding).

LJ on the record

In case you hadn't heard, Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson ain't goin' nowhere. You can scroll down to see my initial post. But I spoke to the man an hour ago so there's no further need for sourcing. Here's the transcript of my Q&A with LJ. The full story will be in tomorrow's newspaper or online for those too cheap (just kidding).

WILL YOU BE STAYING WITH PENN STATE?
That is true.

DID YOU SERIOUSLY ENTERTAIN ILLINOIS' OFFER?
I did. The offer came around the corner. I looked at it and it was a chance to move up to defensive coordinator and put your brand on it. I was intrigued by it and walked away impressed. It was flattering, to be honest. I said, 'I have to go think about it.' And I did. But when it came down to it, my love for my players, the university and the Penn State family kept me here.

DID YOU MEET WITH JOE PATERNO TO DISCUSS THE JOB OFFER?
We met on two occasions to talk about the process, the job and the offer. We met a couple of days ago and talked a little bit this morning. And then it was, I just had to figure out what I wanted to do and make sure I was sure I was doing the right thing and the best thing. The overriding factor, was the love for my players. It was the most important thing.

DID JOE [OR THE ATHLETIC DEPT.] OFFER A PROMOTION OR A RAISE?
No, that was not the case. I’ve never really been about money. ... I understand the lay of the land. I understand that there are people ahead of me that have been here longer and I have nowhere to go, but I’m happy where I’m at. There was no compromise. No deal. No anything. It was a 'Thank you,' 'You're welcome,' and 'Glad you're staying.' And that was enough for me.

ARE YOU STILL PASSIONATE ABOUT WANTING TO BE A HEAD COACH?
No question about it. I think that's in every assistant coach's mind -- to better himself. That’s why I went on to the interview to take a look at the possibility of doing that. In the future, maybe something else will come forward. But right now Penn State is the best place for me.

COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE BOND YOU HAVE WITH THE PLAYERS YOU COACH AND RECRUIT?
For me, it's always been about the players and the people you're involved with. It's tough for me because I'm a personal guy. It's real. Having to tell all of those families and all of those people that I was leaving, I knew it was going to be a tough process. It out-weighed anything else that I was looking at. It was unfair to do it to them at this particular time.

DID ILLINOIS ALSO OFFER AN ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH TAG?
No, that did not come up.

WERE YOU OFFERED MORE MONEY?
I was offered a negotiating fee, but we didn’t get that far. I don’t know where those [reported] numbers came from. But we never got that far because I hadn't accepted the job yet. There was never a number thrown out.

WHAT WAS PATERNO'S REACTION WHEN YOU TOLD HIM YOU WERE STAYING?
He was very happy that I was staying. He was very appreciative of the fact of what I’ve contributed to Penn State. I'm committed to bringing Penn State a national championship. That's my focus.

WITH AARON MAYBIN AND MAURICE EVANS LEAVING ARE YOU WORRIED?
Those are two great players that made decisions -- and we wish them well. They're going to be fine players. But I'm one of those guys, to be honest with you, the more you take the more you build. We have some young players that are going to step up and go to work. Aaron and Maurice were once unknown players that nobody knew about and there will be two other guys that come along that continue that. I don't worry about that.

 

About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

This season is Joe's fourth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Joe Juliano
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