Image by Linebacker-U.com/Mike Pettigano
The news is from Chick Hernandez, who's usually pretty spot-on with Terps stuff. The Sean Miller situation wasn't his finest moment but I'm sure that's more on Miller's squeamishness than anything else; remember, he called the Randy Edsall hiring before anyone else. He's also quick to point out that the deal isn't done and that they're still in the talking stages.
I had heard some idle chatter that Vanderlinden could be looked at as an option, but I never truly expected it. I'm still a little bit in shock, though I have to say I'm not particularly impressed.
The obvious positive here is the ol' "Ralph won with Vanderlinden's kids" meme, which is true but as I said before is really more "Ralph won with Mike Locksley's kids." So with Locks on board, why is it necessary to bring on Vandy, particularly given he hasn't been a defensive coordinator since 1996 and hasn't landed a Maryland kid since ... well, his Maryland days?
Oh, and the myriad bad memories and dislike for him in the fanbase? Who's going to react to this by saying, "Oh, Ron Vanderlinden's back? Fantastic! That seriously changes my perception of the program!" Sure, not many defensive coordinators would, but I have to think the diehards would respond better to Randy Shannon or Larry Johnson or Mike Stoops or Vic Koenning or - well, you get the idea.
And this isn't to disparage Vanderlinden as a DC candidate. Linebacker's coach at Penn State for nearly a decade, plus head coaching and DC experience at Northwestern the previous decade is a pretty decent resumé for a DC gig somewhere. Just ideally not at the place from which he was fired about 10 years ago that is also in need of a splash hire to keep the fanbase on board.
If you want a non-rant that informs you of what Vanderlinden's been doing since going 15-29 in College Park: he found a gig as Penn State's linebackers coach, which he held under JoePa and Tom Bradley for the better part of a decade. When Bradley got the interim head coach gig, he and Larry Johnson were elevated to co-defensive coordinators for the final few games of the season. Not a lot to go on, except that he did a pretty solid job of developing linebackers.
He also did a solid, if unspectacular, job of recruiting. He was good for a few four-stars a year, usually from northeast or midwest locales in which Penn State has a pretty nice pull: guys like Devon Still and Justin Brown from Delaware, Deion Barnes and Shawn Oakman from Pennsylvania, Robert Bolden and Chris Colasanti from Michigan, and Khairi Fortt from Connecticut. All good, national recruits that had other big offers, which should tell you that he's a competent recruiter. It doesn't, however, scream "elite recruiter" given PSU's profile and resources.
(If you're wondering who he could poach from PSU down the stretch: he was the main guy on Skyler Morningweg, a three-star QB. He had some big offers, but doesn't seem substantially better than Perry Hills or Caleb Rowe to me.)
So he's an upgrade in recruiting, if not the revelation that Locksley would've been. And probably an upgrade in coaching as well, though I think anyone would've been over Todd Bradford in both of those categories. And not an awful hire, certainly. But not near the top of my wishlist, either.
There is, of course, some way to go on this one. Things fall through all the time. We'll keep an eye out, especially because no one else has come out to corroborate it just yet.