After all, it was Moorhead’s dad who pretty much sealed Limegrover’s football fate.
“We literally grew up in the same neighborhood,” Limegrover said on a conference call Thursday. “His dad was my first-ever football coach in organized football. And the joke is that when I went and got my equipment, his dad took one look at me and threw me No. 60. And the die was cast. I was an offensive lineman from the fourth grade on.”
Limegrover spent the past 16 seasons under former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill at four schools and most recently served as Minnesota’s offensive line coach, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at various times between the 2011-15 seasons. Minnesota’s new head coach, Tracy Claeys, let him go in late November.
Limegrover said even though he and Moorhead “go way back,” he had never really considered an opportunity to coach with him. But when Franklin hired Moorhead in December after firing John Donovan, Moorhead suggested Limegrover for the offensive line post when Herb Hand departed for Auburn.
Maybe because he needed someone to converse with in Pittsburghese.
“There’s definitely some bonding,” Limegrover said. “We kind of get a hard time from the other coaches because every once in a while — him more than me — we kind of fall into the ‘yinz.’ And I’m kind of getting my Pittsburgh accent back after having been a Midwestern guy for so long.
“It’s nice to see the new guys on the staff, but also have such a history with each other. It’s made that transition a lot smoother than it would have been otherwise.”
Limegrover said he is excited to focus solely on the offensive line. And that attention is needed, as the unit has allowed 83 sacks in the past two seasons and endured depth issues because of injuries and after NCAA scholarship limitations because of sanctions.
But the new coach has watched every game from last season as well as practices from fall camp and bowl preparation as he readies to install a new system with Moorhead.
There are even more near-familial connections among the Penn State coaches beyond Limegrover and Moorhead. Banks and Franklin were on staff at Maryland in 2003-04 and have kept in touch since, including coaching against each other several times in their careers. Banks’ wife is the godmother to Franklin’s first child.
Banks was co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons at Illinois and will work with defensive coordinator Brent Pry, whom Franklin promoted from co-defensive coordinator after former defensive coordinator and safeties coach Bob Shoop went to Tennessee.
Banks intersected with Penn State back in 2012, when he was part of the Illinois coaching contingent that came to University Park to try to recruit players away in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. But Banks said the team has welcomed him with open arms despite that history.
“Obviously, that was a situation that was greatly regrettable for all parties involved, from the top of the administration down to the coaching staff,” Banks said. “It was a unique situation at that time, and I think if you had a chance to do it again, I think better decisions would have been made.”
Megan Ryan: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @theothermegryan.
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