Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien has been faced with questions about a potential move to the NFL almost from the start of his head coaching career at Penn State it seems, but one current NFL coach seems pretty sure the Nittany Lions head coach is not leaving for a return to the NFL any time soon.
Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone, former head coach at Syracuse, said in a conference call Wednesday he expects O’Brien to stick with Penn State, according to a report by USA Today. Marrone and O’Brien were both assistant coaches at Georgia Tech under current Central Florida head coach George O’Leary and have been friends ever since. If any coach had an inclination of what O’Brien had planned for the future, O’Leary and Marrone might be the best bets. Of course, this does not mean it is a given O’Brien sticks at Penn State.
With the NCAA cutting back on the scholarship portion of the sanctions levied against the program starting with the next recruiting class and the possibility of a reduction in the postseason ban at some point in the future, the job as head coach at Penn State is starting to get easier, for lack of a better word. What was once deemed a toxic position by some has started to clean up each of the past two years as Penn State paces toward the end of the NCAA sanction period. O’Brien has been admired by many of his peers in the college coaching game and continues to impress those who follow the NFL. As pointed out by Pro Football Talk over the summer, the contract situation for O’Brien is beginning to make it more affordable for potential suitors with NFL coffers. O’Brien has a pretty good job where he is at Penn State and he has said all of the right things about the position since he was introduced as the head coach. He speaks highly of the program, the university and has won over a split community and fan base through difficult times with grace and determination. He has worked hard to make Penn State football what it currently is today by leaving his own stamp on a program with a deep and rich, as well as recently tainted, history. He has the attitude of a coach looking to continue building a program in to a championship contender, which could be likely once Penn State gets back to full strength with scholarships.
I have been asked this many times over the last year and a half. It is my belief that O’Brien will one day coach in the NFL, and I will not be surprised if that day comes before his current contract at Penn State expires. O’Brien has been held in high regard by NFL media and apparently NFL franchises. If he continues to lead Penn State to winning football games in spite of NCAA sanctions, his profile will continue to improve and NFL franchises in need of a coach will continue to keep tabs on the former Patriots assistant coach.
It may be hard to believe, but Miami is in position to end the season with nine wins. That assumes, of course, the Hurricanes avoid a second half meltdown against Pittsburgh and close out the year with a bowl win. For now, Miami should be feeling pretty good as the Hurricanes have stomped Pitt in the first half of an early kickoff in western Pennsylvania. Miami took a 23-3 lead into the half.
Miami has more than doubled the total offensive production of the Panthers, outgaining Pitt at halftime 248 yards to 102. The Panthers have just 36 passing yards and 66 rushing yards in the half. Pitt also had a turnover with Nathan Peterman having a pass picked off by Artie Burns.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 166 yards, with Rashawn Scott on the receiving end of the touchdown play and leading the team with 50 receiving yards. Miami’s Joseph Yardley leads all players with 64 rushing yards. Pitt’s star receiver, Tyler Boyd, has just one catch for eight yards.
If Houston is going to slow down Navy’s offense, keeping it off the field is a good way to go about it. In a battle for the American Athletic Conference West Division title, and home field advantage in the AAC Championship Game, Houston has used methodic ball control to its advantage and leads the Midshipmen 24-14 at halftime. Greg Ward Jr.‘s five-yard touchdown run gave the home team the lead just minutes after Houston successfully converted a fourth down and short after a timeout.
Houston took the game’s opening possession 82 yards for a touchdown after 13 plays for an early lead. Greg Ward Jr. completed a short pass to Steven Dunbar from five yards out for the score, but Navy answered with a touchdown drive on their opening possession. Keenan Reynolds ripped off a 52-yard run and later capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
Houston again put together a lengthy and time-consuming touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. The Cougars took 13 plays to move 76 yards for a score, this time seeing Brandon Wilson complete the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead. The two teams exchanged punts before Navy once again tied the game with Reynolds completing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jamir Tillman.
Earlier this week it was looking as though Washington State quarterback Luke Falk might be available to play Washington in this year’s edition of the Apple Cup. Now the outlook is not so good.
According to a report from Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times, Washington State will start Peyton Bender at quarterback against the Huskies. Falk, who is recovering form a concussion last week, is not expected to dress for the game. It will be the first start of the redshirt freshman’s career. Bender has appeared in four games this season serving as Falk’s backup. In his limited playing time, Bender has completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He has been picked off twice.
The loss of Falk is certainly a blow to Washington State’s offense, although we will see if Mike Leach has a system in place where he can plug in a quarterback and still get the production through the air as has been the case during his career. There is no word on whether or not Falk will be available for the bowl season, although that would seem to look possible given more time to recover from a concussion.
Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt will not get a sixth year of eligibility. The NCAA has denied a request to extend Hunt’s eligibility by one more year, Syracuse announced today.
Hunt had his 2014 and 2015 seasons cut short due to injuries. A broken leg in 2014 forced Hunt to miss the final seven games of the season. An Achilles tendon injury against Rhode Island in the 2015 season opener has sidelined Hunt for the entire 2015 season, effectively.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing but I want to thank my teammates, coaches and all the Syracuse fans who have supported me through this process and during my time here,” Hunt said in a statement shared by Syracuse athletics. “Even though my career didn’t turn how I thought it would, I still have a lot of great memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
“Right now I’m focused on my rehab and on finishing graduate school. I’m getting better every day and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to continue my career at the professional level.”
Hunt’s Syracuse career will end with 2,621 passing yards and 24 touchdowns (11 passing, 13 rushing).