Bill O'Brien, Tom Brady

Update: O’Brien interviews for Penn State job


UPDATED 1/5/2012 @ 9:04 p.m. ET: New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien did indeed interview for the Penn State vacancy on Thursday, the coach’s agent confirmed to the Associated Press.

Joe Linta said following the talk with school officials that his client is “flattered by the interest.”

O’Brien was not available for the Patriots’ practice session today, although head coach Bill Belichick was shockingly guarded about the possibility of losing his coordinator to the collegiate ranks.

“He’s done a great job for us since he’s come here,” Belichick said. “I really can’t speak to him in any other position.”


What, you thought you’d make it through the rest of the day without another twist in Penn State’s search for a head coach?

Bill O’Brien was identified over the weekend as a candidate all but signed, sealed and delivered as Penn State’s next coach, only to have his agent knock down the reports by labeling them as “off-base“.  In fact, the agent seemed to hint that his client’s future was at the NFL level.

Three days later, O’Brien’s name is once again connected to a job that’s been vacant for nearly two full months as USA Today is reporting that O’Brien is scheduled to interview with Penn State officials on Thursday.  Ron Mussleman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette subsequently confirmed the report.

O’Brien would become the third current NFL assistant to interview for the job, joining Green bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.  The latter is reportedly a finalist to land the Nittany Lions gig.

O’Brien has been with the New England Patriots since 2007, and spent his first season as the NFL club’s offensive coordinator this past year.  Prior to the five-year stint in the NFL, O’Brien spent time on college staffs at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06).

It remains unclear when Penn State will name a permanent successor to Joe Paterno, although we’re assuming it will occur at some point prior to the start of the 2012 season.

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury