When Anthony Midget left Marshall to become safeties coach at Penn State in February, it quietly marked a milestone for the Nittany Lion program. The 35-year-old became the first assistant to join Bill O'Brien's staff since PSU was hit with NCAA sanctions last July.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Midget said the sanctions -- which stemmed from the school's handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal -- had no impact on his decision to interview for and eventually take the job.
Not at all, Midget said. It was an opportunity to come and be a part of Penn State. Yes, I understood what I was getting into. But it was never a doubt in my mind that with Coach O'Brien and what the guys did last year, that I wanted to be a part of this staff and be a part of getting this thing turned around and just building on what they did last year and taking this thing to the next level.
How badly did he want to be part of it?
After serving as defensive coordinator under Bill Curry at Georgia State last season, Midget became the secondary coach at Marshall in late January. He actually worked for Doc Holiday for about a week and a half before O'Brien asked to interview him.
The interview went well, according to Midget.
He offered me the job, Midget said. A week and a half later, I was at Penn State. It was an opportunity to come to one of the storied college programs in the country and be a part of the staff here.
Midget knows a thing or two about playing and working under top head coaches. He was a three-year starter at defensive back under Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech in the late 1990s. He returned to Tech as a graduate assistant coach in 2007. In 2008, he joined Curry's staff at Georgia State, working his way up to defensive coordinator last season but moving on after Curry retired.
Asked what jumped out at him about O'Brien, Midget said, How passionate he is. He's passionate for the game. A great offensive mind, but he has great relationships with the players. His overall passion for the game and leadership is unbelievable.
O'Brien is hardly the only passionate coach in the program. When Roof left in January, fiery secondary coach John Butler was immediately promoted to defensive coordinator.
Butler will continue to coach the cornerbacks, while Midget -- who considers himself energetic on the practice field -- will focus on the safeties. The newcomer believes his coaching style meshes well with Butler's approach.
It's just a great fit for both of us back there, Midget said. The guys feed off it and we coach them hard. You have to be demanding to get what you want, but at the end of the day be able to switch it off and be mentors or whatever we need to be to the players (off the field).
Midget credits the entire Penn State staff for making his transition that much smoother.
Guys like to have fun, he said. But when it's time to work, they get after it.
As quickly as everything transpired, he still can't quite believe he is coaching at Penn State. And he admitted to being really surprised when O'Brien first reached out to him, apparently on the advice of a mutual acquaintance (though Midget is not sure who that person was).
I guess Coach O'Brien had a mutual friend that recommended me, Midget said. (O'Brien) called me and asked me if there was an interest, and I said yes. I had an interview, it went well, and he offered me the job.
Here we are today, Midget added. It's just been great and a blessing. Everything happened so fast.
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