Bill O'Brien

O’Brien staying at Penn State


Well, that certainly didn’t take long.  And, you can apparently breathe again, Happy Valley

Just a couple of hours after it was reported that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien had interviewed for the Cleveland Browns vacancy earlier this week, and after it reported that O’Brien interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles today, Jason La Confora of CBS Sports is reporting that “O’Brien is staying at Penn State” after what was by most accounts a very brief flirtation with the NFL.

“O’Brien has informed the school he is staying put,” La Confora subsequently tweeted.  Additionally, Adam Caplan of SiriusXM Radio tweeted that O’Brien will not do any additional interviews with NFL clubs.

The news is huge for a Nittany Lions football program that could’ve been facing the loss of their first-year head coach heading into the second year of stifling NCAA sanctions.

O’Brien’s decision to remain in Happy Valley also comes shortly before a critical recruiting stretch commences, and will allow the Nittany Lions staff to retain what’s shaping up to be an above-average class.  That’s critical for O’Brien & Company as part of the NCAA sanctions included deep cuts in scholarships available annually.

UPDATED 10: 34 p.m. ET: In an interview with David Jones of the Patriot-News, O’Brien himself confirmed that he will remain at Penn State.

I’m not a one-and-done guy,” said O’Brien. “I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that’s what I am going to do. I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure.”

Jones also reported that, per high-level PSU sources, O’Brien will receive a raise of $1.3 million annually that will bump his salary to $3.6 million.  If that’s the case, O’Brien would become the third-highest paid head coach in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz.

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