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…