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.

LOOK: Minnesota unveils new uniforms for 2018

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If you’re into college football fashion — not that there’s anything thing wrong with that — today’s your lucky day.

At a team meeting Tuesday morning, Minnesota unveiled to its football players the new uniforms they will be wearing this coming season. Per the school’s release, “[t]he Gophers introduced three new jerseys (Maroon, White and Anthracite), three helmets (Maroon, White and Gold) and four pairs of pants (Maroon, White, Gold and Anthracite) to choose from next season in addition to an ever-changing array of shoes, socks, facemasks and other accoutrements.”

All told, the Gophers will have more than 100 different uniform combinations at their disposal.

Reflecting head coach P.J. Fleck‘s “row the boat” mantra he brought over from Western Michigan, two of the new helmets will feature an oar running down the middle of the lid, front to back.

Below is a brief look at the new duds the Gophers will wear in 2018.  For the complete fashion array, click HERE.

Michigan makes hiring of Jim McElwain official

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After a week’s worth of speculation and reports, the newest member of Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff is officially on board.

Tuesday afternoon, U-M confirmed that Harbaugh has completed his staff with the hiring of Jim McElwain.  The former Florida head coach will serve as U-M’s wide receivers coach, his first time as a position coach as his sole responsibility since he was the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2006.  On two other occasions, with Louisville from 2000-02 and again at Michigan State from 2003-05, McElwain was responsible for receivers at a Power Five school.

There has also been chatter that McElwain, the former offensive coordinator at Alabama, could take over play-calling duties, although that aspect hasn’t yet been addressed by the football program.

“I am excited to work with this offensive staff and Coach Harbaugh,” said McElwain in a statement. “There are a lot of great offensive minds in that coaching room and I look forward to learning from them.”

McElwain interviewed for the job earlier this month and, not long after, it was reported that McElwain was a “strong contender” for a position with the Wolverines.  Offered the job late last week, McElwain reportedly agreed to join the program this past weekend.

Under the direction of offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, Michigan’s offense was tied for 91st nationally in averaging 25.2 points per game this past season.  It’s that subpar performance offensively that has some pointing to McElwain as a very likely candidate to over calling plays.

In his three seasons at Florida, however, the Gators’ offense finished 109th (22.1 ppg, 2017), 107th (23.9 ppg, 2016) and 99th (23.2) in scoring.  Those numbers were with McElwain as head coach; calling plays at Alabama under the notoriously conservative Nick Saban from 2008-11, the Crimson Tide’s numbers went…

2008 — 30.1 ppg, 35th nationally
2009 — 32.1 ppg, 22nd
2010 — 35.5 ppg, 18th
2011 — 34.8 ppg, 20th

Second Nevada football player added to Wolf Pack hoops

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Recently, Nevada’s men’s basketball roster has taken on a decidedly gridiron hue.

Thanks to injuries and off-field issues, Eric Musselman‘s hoops team was down to just seven scholarship players.  Because of those numbers, 6-5 Wolf Pack wide receiver Elijah Cooks was added to the basketball roster earlier this month.  Monday night, 6-2 wide receiver-turned-safety Justin Brent confirmed on Twitter that, with the blessing of head football coach Jay Norvell, he too will be joining the Wolf Pack basketball team.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Brent was recruited as a basketball player by, among others, Georgetown, Marquette, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Xavier.  He ultimately signed with Notre Dame with the intention of playing both sports at the school, but ultimately transferred from the Fighting Irish to the Wolf Pack.

Brent will begin practicing with the team, which will be the main job of both of the football players.  While Cooks has traveled with the team to two games since joining, he has yet to take the floor with his new squad, although Mussleman admitted that he nearly put the receiver in late in their recent game against Utah State.

Last season as a true freshman, Cooks caught two passes for 23 yards.  Brent, a redshirt junior, totaled 21 yards on his one reception before being moved from offense to defense.

Four-star 2018 C Tyrone Sampson headed to Fresno State

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All four-star 2018 recruits are officially accounted for.

After the first-ever Early Signing Period in December and the annual National Signing Day earlier this month, just one of 347 four-star recruits remained unsigned by FBS programs. That one, Tyrone Sampson Jr. of Detroit, had reportedly zeroed in on Arizona State, Mississippi State and Nebraska as likely destinations but, instead of signing on the first Wednesday of February, opted instead to continue studying his options as schools such as Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia had entered the picture.

In the end, however, it appears that the one-time Syracuse commit will at least begin his collegiate playing career not at a Power Five program but rather at a Mountain West Conference school according to the offensive lineman as well as his new football coach.

That commitment came shortly after Sampson visited the Bulldogs’ campus.

Sampson was rated as the No. 7 center in the country and the No. 346 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He had been committed to Syracuse for more than eight months before decommitting in December.

Easily the highest-rated member of Jeff Tedford‘s second recruiting class, Sampson is the first four-star recruit signed by the football program since 2015 (wide receiver L.J. Reed) and just the fourth such prospect in the school’s history, joining quarterback Derek Carr (2009) and offensive tackle James Paulk (2005).