Coach Barkley? It almost happened at Penn State this offseason.
Nittany Lions coach James Franklin revealed to the New York Post that former running back Saquon Barkley, now a star with the New York Giants, wanted to return to Happy Valley this spring to help Franklin's coaching staff. Barkley wasn't retiring from the NFL or anything of the sort. Instead, his desire to return to his old stomping grounds would have been in an effort to help improve his own game by viewing it through a different lens. However, when coronavirus concerns swept through the country in mid-March, Barkley's plans to return as a coach were put on hold as well.
"Saquon reached out to me and his plan was to come and spend spring ball with us as a coach," Franklin told The Post. "He wanted to sit in all of the coaches meetings to see how we came up with the game plan, how we watch film and all the things we discuss. He wanted to be able to learn football and view it through a different lens because he thought that would help his growth, and he'd be able to go back and have a bigger impact with the Giants. He could see how coaches assess things and why."
Barkley was only going to stay at Penn State as a coach for as long as he could before his NFL obligations called for him to return to the Giants organization. However, he was only able to join the team via conference call in April. Barkley finished his career at Penn State with 3,843 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns. He's eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in both of his professional seasons with the Giants.
Penn State was scheduled to hold spring practices beginning March 18. Obviously, those never got underway because of COVID-19. The Big Ten canceled all team activities through June 1, but some programs, like Ohio State, will start allowing athletes to return for offseason workouts beginning next month.