Bill O'Brien

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…

 

Record-breaking QB one of two coaches hired by New Mexico State

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Doug Martin‘s 2017 on-field coaching staff will have a decidedly familiar feel to it, even as it’s in some ways brand-new.

New Mexico State announced that two coaches have been hired by Martin, Chase Holbrook and Kai Brown.  The former will serve as tight ends coach, the latter as defensive ends coach.

Holbrook spent the 2016 season as a quality control coach for Mike Leach at Washington State.  A former NMSU quarterback, he still owns the school’s single-season and career records for passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.

Brown was a graduate assistant the past three seasons for the football program.

“We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately. …

“Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.”

This will be both coaches’ first foray into full-time coaching responsibilities at the FBS level.

Cal turns to Fresno State to complete Justin Wilcox’s staff

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 14:  A member of the California Golden Bears spirit squad waves a team flag while standing next to the Bears' mascot in front of the Michigan State Spartans crowd on September 14, 2002 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.  California defeated Michigan State 46-22.  (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images)
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In late December, Fresno State hired Tony Tuioti as part of Jeff Tedford‘s first coaching staff with the Mountain West program.  Two months later, Tedford’s former Pac-12 employer has poached said staff.

By way of a press release, Cal announced that Tuioti has been hired as Justin Wilcox‘s outside linebackers coach.  Tedford served as Cal’s head coach from 2002-12; Tim DeRuyter, Fresno’s head coach for five seasons before being fired and replaced by Tedford, is now Wilcox’s defensive coordinator with the Golden Bears.

“Tony has a tremendous resume that showcases his diverse skill set and abilities both on and off the field,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Not only is he an excellent coach, but the experience he has as a director of player personnel will be a tremendous benefit to us in the structuring and organization of our recruiting operation. Finding someone with a skill set as unique and diverse as Tony’s is challenging. We are fortunate that we have found that in Tony and are looking forward to his contributions to our program.”

“Working at Cal for a coach like Justin Wilcox was an opportunity I could not pass up,” a statement from Tuioti began. “I have a tremendous feeling about the positive direction Cal is headed, and I really wanted to be a part of that and contribute all I could to a football program with tremendous potential.”

In 2016, Tuioti worked as a football staffer at Michigan.  His last on-field job at the collegiate level came at Hawaii (2012-13, linebackers coach; 2010-11, defensive line).

Georgia raising money to build Devon Gales a home

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It’s been close to a year and a half since Southern football player Devon Gales fractured his C6 vertebrae when covering a kick at Georgia. While the two sides will forever be linked, Georgia has gone above and beyond its duties to help improve his life.

In addition to regularly visiting him in the hospital and paying for his parents’ travel to Georgia, the Bulldogs will now raise funds to build him a house.

Gales received an NCAA Sportsmanship Award at the Bulldogs’ basketball game on Saturday, and it was announced that the UGAAA will launch a “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.

“Anybody can just their prayer for you and send you on your way, but they didn’t. They took me as one of their kids, not just as another player, but as one of their children,” Gales said.

To contibute, text (707) 204-1707 to donate $5 toward the fund.

Mike Gundy says Sugar Bowl loss to Ole Miss wasn’t on a “level playing field”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Laquon Treadwell #1 of the Mississippi Rebels celebrates scoring a 14-yard touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the fourth quarter of the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Mike Gundy originally blamed himself for Oklahoma State’s 48-20 loss to Ole Miss at the Sugar Bowl that closed the 2015 season.

Speaking at the AFCA Convention in Nashville last month, I heard Gundy explain to thousands of fellow coaches he felt he overtrained his Cowboys in preparation to play the physically imposing Rebels. The end result backfired. As I wrote for FootballScoop:

As Oklahoma State prepared to face No. 12 Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, Gundy pushed his players harder than usual in December practices. “They’re going to knock us off the ball and it’s not going to look pretty,” he remembers thinking. That strategy backfired on him, though, as the Rebels pounded Gundy’s team 48-20. Oklahoma State was out-rushed 207-63 and averaged only 6.7 yards per pass attempt to Ole Miss’s 9.9. “We weren’t physical and we were slow,” Gundy said.

But now Gundy thinks something else may have contributed to that 28-point spanking.

As he explained to the Tulsa World‘s Bill Haisten, Gundy said he couldn’t help but think of the Sugar Bowl when he learned of the NCAA’s charges against Ole Miss.

“The first thing I thought about was (OSU’s recent experience with the NCAA),” Gundy said, “and the second thing was the Sugar Bowl and my players and what they went through.”

He continued: “We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field. That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”