Update: Paterno congrats precedes O’Brien’s official hiring

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UPDATED 10:01 p.m. ET: Exactly 58 days after the firing of Joe Paterno, Penn State has officially hired a permanent replacement.

And, oddly enough, the official declaration came via a posting on a social network.

In a posting to his Twitter account, PSU’s Assistant Athletic Director/Communications Jeff Nelson wrote the following: “#PennState Names Bill O’Brien 15th Head Football Coach in Storied 125-Year History of Program”.  And, with that, a nearly two-month-long search had come to an end.

“I am thrilled to be the head coach of the Penn State football program,” stated O’Brien. “I cannot tell you how excited I am to get started, meet the team, meet the football alumni and meet all of the people that make this University so special. As head coach of this special football program, it is my responsibility to ensure that this program represents the highest level of character, respect and integrity in everything we do. That includes my coaching staff, our players and everyone involved in the football program. There is tremendous pride in Penn State football and will never, ever take that for granted.”

Coincidence or not, the announcement came less than a half an hour after Paterno released a statement congratulating O’Brien on his new job.

O’Brien will be officially introduced at an 11:30 a.m. ET press conference Saturday.

“We have found the man to take Penn State football forward,” said Dave Joyner, Penn State acting director of athletics. “Needless to say, we have been looking for someone with some very special qualities, beginning with a heart that beats to the values and vision of Penn State University and our Penn State football legacy and tradition. That was our starting point, and Coach O’Brien exemplifies those traits that Penn Staters hold so highly. In addition to his model characteristics as a man and a teacher, he’s all about producing winners, and doing so the right way. He will embrace tradition, demand excellence and pursue Success with Honor in every phase of our program.”

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If myriad reports are accurate, Bill O’Brien will become the first head coach not named Joe Paterno to lead the Penn State football program since the 1965 season.

While the school has yet to officially announce the hiring, Coach Paterno’s not so patient; rather, he’s in a congratulatory mood.

In a statement sent to the Associated Press through his family, Paterno congratulated O’Brien on the new job, adding that he hopes the current offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots continues the program’s commitment to education.  Suffice to say, there was no specific mention of the scandal that cost the legendary coach his job nearly two months ago to the day.

“I understand Bill O’Brien has been named head coach and I want to congratulate him on his appointment,” Paterno said in a statement to the AP provided by his family. “I don’t know Bill, but I respect his coaching record, and I am particularly pleased we share a connection to my alma mater, Brown.”

“Despite recent commentary to the contrary, Penn State football has always been about more than winning,” Paterno added, citing what he said was the program’s commitment to education and community service. “I am hopeful this tradition will continue.”

Despite their age difference — Paterno was completing his fourth season as head coach when O’Brien was born on Oct. 23, 1969 — and as noted in the statement, the two do have one thing in common: both coaches are graduates of an Ivy League institution, Brown University.

Penn State is expected to make O’Brien’s hiring official sooner rather than later, with a press conference taking place as early as Saturday.

Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan avoids felony pot possession charge

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One of the top playmakers in Nebraska’s passing game has avoided what was originally a serious legal charge.

According to KETV-TV in Omaha, Stanley Morgan was arrested following a traffic stop May 6 in Port Orange, Fla., for possession of 21.4 grams of marijuana; according to the penal code in the state of Florida, possession of more than 20 grams of weed is considered a felony.  However, the television station wrote, “prosecutors charged the case as ‘possession of cannabis not more than 20 grams,’ making it a misdemeanor.”

Why the the charge against Morgan went from a potential felony to a misdemeanor — or reduced as the Associated Press reported — wasn’t detailed.  A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia charge was dropped as well.

Cornhuskers defensive back Antonio Reed was also in the vehicle that was driven by his teammate and was charged with misdemeanor pot possession as well.

“Head Coach Mike Riley and the Athletics Department are aware of a recent incident in Florida involving Stanley Morgan Jr.,” a statement from the university began. “We will have no additional comment until we have all information regarding this matter.”

Morgan’s 33 receptions for 453 yards were second on the team last season.  With Jordan Westerkamp‘s departure, the junior is the Cornhuskers’ leading returning receiver.

Also a junior, Reed played in 22 games last season.  He was credited with 22 tackles.

Ex- Utah DB Jordan Fogal tweets he’s transferring to Colorado State

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Last month, Jordan Fogal used Twitter to announce his decision to transfer from Utah. This month, he’s taken to the same social media website to reveal his new college football home.

In a tweet, Fogal acknowledged that he be enrolling in a Masters program at Colorado State and will be playing football for the Rams. While the school has yet to confirm the safety’s move, he is now being followed on Twitter by head coach Mike Bobo.

As a grad transfer, Fogal will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 at CSU.

After spending two seasons at the junior college level, Fogal played in 11 games the past two years. Fogal’s two interceptions last season were tied for fourth on the team.

The defensive back’s 2015 season came to a premature end after three games because of an injury. He then played in eight games in 2016 for the Utes.

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.