Pry staying put at Penn State
By Cory Giger
For The Sun-Gazette
STATE COLLEGE – Brent Pry loves it at Penn State, and James Franklin loves having him there, but at some point, Pry is widely expected to leave and become a head coach elsewhere.
That time, however, is not now for the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator.
Pry was reported to be a leading contender for the head coaching job at Louisiana-Lafayette, but that position went to Arizona State offensive coordinator Brian Napier on Friday.
“Yeah, staying at Penn State. Looking forward to the bowl game and excited to be off the road and get back into practice mode,” Pry said Friday during PSU’s bowl media day.
It’s not known if Pry was offered the job and turned it down, or if Napier was Louisiana-Lafayette’s top choice. Pry reportedly was one of a handful of people to interview for the job, although he would not confirm that.
“There was some mutual interest early in the process,” Pry said. “It’s a great place, it’s kind of a special place. My wife is from there. I’m not going to get into more details than that.”
Pry, who is also Penn State’s associate head coach, served as an assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2002-06. He interviewed for the head coaching position a couple of years ago at Georgia Southern, another place he served as an assistant.
He has repeatedly spoken of how happy he is at Penn State, and did so again Friday.
“This is a fantastic place, and I love working for James,” Pry said. “My family loves being here. We love the family environment that Coach provides for us.
“This time of year, you can’t read too much into what’s out there on social media (about coaching searches). … It’s that time of year, and it’s never accurate. It’s twisted one way or another. But we’re happy to be in Happy Valley and looking forward to coaching against Washington.”
Pry has an extensive history with Franklin, going back to the early 1990s at East Stroudsburg, and the two are close friends.
“We talk all the time,” Franklin said. “We were in a car together for about a day and a half. We talk all the time about everything — about his family, about his career, about Penn State, about other opportunities.
“But Brent’s my guy. Brent’s obviously been a valued part of our staff for — since day one for seven years. He’s one of my best friends and love his family and his wife.”
Franklin said he’s “split” when it comes to Pry because, “I want what’s best for Brent Pry and his family, but I also want what’s best for Penn State and Penn State football. So I’m kind of conflicted on that, personally and professionally.
“But you know, like I told Brent, he’s in a great situation. He’s got a great job at a great place that he loves, and whenever you have really good people that are talented at what they do, people are — people are going to pursue them to in some ways be able to try to steal some of our success that we’ve had the last couple years. I take it as a tremendous compliment for our program.”
Napier reportedly will receive a salary of $900,000 per year at Louisiana-Lafayette. Pry’s salary at PSU is unknown, but it’s possible he is receiving a raise to help make him stay.
Many people assume Pry will be a head coach someday, but he said he doesn’t sit around thinking about that. He’s been an assistant coach 1993, and Penn State is his eighth school.
“I’ve never thought about the next job, to be honest,” Pry said. “Things have kind of worked out. I’m going to stick to that philosophy. I think we all have inquiries, we have friends, we have special places, we have things that kind of draw you, as an assistant coach or as a head coach.
“There’s so much more that goes into a coach making a decision to make a change. Families are such a big piece of it. My wife and kids are very happy here, and we love being with James. This is a very special place, and I’m not sure I could be anywhere better than the job I’m sitting in right now.”
Regardless of how long he stays at Penn State, this is unlikely to be the last time Pry’s name comes up in connection with a head coaching job somewhere.
When that happens, it’s tough to keep things discreet. He said he tries to be honest with his players because they are on social media and follow the rumor mill when it comes to coaching searches.
“It’s unfortunate because you want discretion, and you want to operate through possible opportunities,” Pry said. “It happens every year, there’s discussions. You’d like there to be discretion, but it’s hard.
“So much of what’s out there is inaccurate. There’s a story behind it, and it’s tough ground to maneuver. You don’t want misconceptions, and you don’t want feelings hurt and you don’t want people thinking or believing the wrong thing or inaccurate information. It’s difficult waters to tread.”