Report: O’Brien agrees to become Penn State’s new head coach

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It appears Penn State’s two-month-long search for a new head coach will come to an end this weekend.

ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen is reporting that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to become the Nittany Lions’ coach.  An announcement from the school is expected to take place Saturday, although this report could prompt the school to expedite the process.

CBSSports.com‘s Mike Freeman subsequently confirmed that O’Brien had agreed to become PSU’s new head coach, and also added that an official announcement could come as early as Friday.

A Penn State official told CFT via text message that the school will neither confirm nor deny the report from Mortensen.  The official, who did not want his name being used due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, did allow that the search could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

The long-time assistant would replace Joe Paterno, who was fired Nov. 9 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal and after 46 years as the head coach.  O’Brien, whose name surfaced in connection to the opening over the weekend, interviewed with Penn State officials on Thursday.

The Patriots continued preparations today for their playoff game the weekend after next.  It’s unclear what the timeframe would be for O’Brien officially leaving the NFL club and assuming the Penn State position full-time.

As noted by PFT’s Mike Florio, Charlie Weis split his time between the Patriots and Notre Dame after he was named the Irish’s head coach in 2005 in the midst of a playoff run.  Like O’Brien, Weis was the NFL club’s offensive coordinator at the time.

While O’Brien has been in the NFL for the past five years, he does have extensive experience at the collegiate level.  A graduate of Brown University — coincidentally, the alma mater of Paterno — O’Brien spent time on college staffs at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06).

If Mortensen’s report is accurate, Penn State will close the final head-coaching opening at the Div. 1-A (FBS) level.

UPDATED 11:21 p.m. ET:  Just a couple of tidbits to toss into the mix.

One, multiple media outlets are reporting that O’Brien will remain with the Patriots through their playoff run before moving on to full-time duties with the Nittany Lions.  It remains unclear just how much time O’Brien will be able to devote to his new job, especially as it pertains to assembling a coaching staff and, perhaps even more importantly, solidifying Penn State’s 2012 recruiting class.

If the Patriots were to make it that far, the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, Feb. 5; National Signing Day this year is Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Secondly, and by popular demand, here is O’Brien’s sideline “discussion” with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady earlier this NFL season.  Memo to current and future Nittany Lion quarterbacks: Belichick will not be around to protect you.  Enjoy…

 

Iowa TE Noah Fant threatened with a gun while at Omaha park

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Iowa tight end Noah Fant’s return home to Omaha, Nebraska for the summer became a lot more newsworthy than he would have liked this week.

According to a local police report, Des Moines TV station 13WHO reports that Fant was approached by a area man on Tuesday night who pointed a handgun at the sophomore football player and told him to leave the area:

Fant left the park and called police.  He initially told them he didn’t want to press charges but said if police were able to find him he would.  He told officers he believed the suspect lived in a house near the park because he’d seen the man before in the area.

As officers were searching the area near the park they spotted a man matching the description provided by Fant run into a home.  Police were able to talk to the man’s mother who convinced him to come to the door.  Officers reported the man, 23-year-old Matthew Trimble, was heavily intoxicated and placed him in the back of their cruiser for their own safety.  Trimble’s mother says her son told her that he had confronted a group he believed to be smoking marijuana in the park.  She agreed to turn over his handgun to officers.  Police say the gun was loaded with one round in the chamber and 11 in the magazine.

Trimble was later charged with one count of Making a Terroristic Threat with a Firearm after Fant identified that he was in fact the one who pulled the gun on him.

Luckily Fant (or anyone else) was not injured in the incident and everything eventually played out somewhat peacefully. The Omaha native caught nine passes for 70 yards and one touchdown last season for the Hawkeyes and is expected to return to the team later on.

School officials did not release a statement on the incident involving Fant but did tell Landof10 that they were looking into the matter as of Thursday evening.

Northwestern WR Solomon Vault reportedly set to miss 2017 season after surgery

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Northwestern’s task of replacing the Big Ten’s leading receiver from a year ago appeared to take a hit on Friday.

InsideNU reports that wide receiver Solomon Vault will miss the upcoming 2017 season after undergoing “lower body surgery” and will now take a redshirt for the year.

The speedy pass-catcher had 15 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns last season for the Wildcats and was expected to step up and see a big increase in targets with all-Big Ten receiver Austin Carr off to the NFL. In addition to his duties catching passes from Clayton Thorson, Vault was also Northwestern’s first choice at kick returner after scoring a whopping five touchdowns on returns in the past three years.

Assuming that Vault does indeed take 2017 off, he’ll have just one year left to play in 2018 as a redshirt senior.

The school has not yet confirmed the report about Vault but it certainly seems that the Wildcats’ special teams are set to take a hit going forward if he even misses part of the upcoming campaign for the program. It was already going to be difficult to replace so much production at receiver too and this bit of news will only server to reinforce that point as Northwestern enters their summer workout programs in the next few weeks.

LSU coaches set to learn DL Arden Key’s status for 2017 next week

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LSU is all set to learn whether or not they’ll have the services of one of the nation’s best pass rushers for the 2017 season.

That’s according to Tigers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who told reporters on Thursday that the coaching staff should learn defensive lineman Arden Key‘s status for the season next week.

“Arden’s been around, so I’ve seen Arden,” Aranda said, according to AL.com. “Arden’s looking good. We get back together next week with a full staff. … I anticipate at that time that we’ll hear about Arden’s direction and where he’s going and whether he’ll be with us or not.

“I’m very hopeful that he will be.”

Key announced back in February that he would be stepping away from the program this spring “for personal reasons.” It’s been vague as to what those reasons really are or if the edge rusher would even return to the field for LSU in 2017, but it appears we’ll know either way fairly soon. Key himself tweeted last month that he would not be sitting out his upcoming junior year — leading to speculation that he would indeed be back in the lineup for the Tigers.

Aranda’s comments also seem to indicate things moving in that direction but LSU fans and the rest of the opponents on the schedule will apparently have to wait another week in order to get confirmation on Key’s status for the upcoming season.

Lane Kiffin reportedly bringing Jim Harbaugh and Tennessee coaches to work FAU summer camp

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The calendar is just about ready to flip over to June and with that date change comes time to kick off plenty of summer camps for high school recruits around the country.

While all eyes will be on major outings such as USC’s annual Rising Stars Camp or Florida’s Friday Night Lights, there may be a smaller school’s camp that will draw just as much attention. The one in question? Well of course it would be Lane Kiffin’s first summer camp at Florida Atlantic.

While the draw of Kiffin alone is enough to elicit some higher than normal interest, the list of coaches tagging along for the Owls’ June 5th camp is even more eyebrow-raising than that of the hosts. Namely that includes Jim Harbaugh (and the rest of the Michigan staff per the Sun-Sentinelalong with a few familiar faces from the Tennessee staff, among others.

Yes, that’s right, Kiffin’s old employer is all set to buddy up with the ex-Vols coach down in Boca according to a report from FAUOwlAccess.com.

Given recent limits put on satellite camps by the NCAA, it certainly makes plenty of sense for schools like Michigan and Tennessee to send their staffs to work camps at places like FAU given the latter’s close proximity to so many top recruits. Likewise, it’s pretty understandable to see Kiffin bring in some even bigger names to his first summer camp in order to draw attention to the program he took over in the offseason.

Still, it should be more than a little interesting for many fans in the Volunteer State to see a few Tennessee coaches working alongside the man many blame for their program’s slide in recent years. It’s been several years (and coaching stops) since Kiffin left Knoxville so perhaps next month we’ll find out if time really does heal all wounds.

To the surprise of nobody though, FAU hasn’t even played a game under their new head coach and the Owls are already making waves and finding plenty of time in the national spotlight.