Report: Browns have already interviewed Bill O’Brien

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With the Cleveland Browns reportedly targeting Oregon’s Chip Kelly as their next head coach, the NFL club has apparently been doing its due diligence in case they swing and miss.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and citing an unnamed source, the Browns have already interviewed Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien for their vacancy.  The interview allegedly took place at some point earlier this week.

It had been speculated on earlier in the week that O’Brien had been seriously considering listening to NFL overtures.

O’Brien has been with the Nittany Lions for just one season, but was hired before the NCAA slammed the football program with historic sanctions that may or may not stick.  It’s been rumored that his buyout is all little as $9.s million and as much as just over $18 million.

The Browns as well as the Philadelphia Eagles have, at least in large part, focused their search on coaches from the collegiate level.  Kelly is expected to be interviewed by the Browns tomorrow, followed by interviews with the Eagles and Buffalo Bills if the AFC North team can’t seal the deal immediately.

The Eagles have also been mentioned as an NFL club that will make a “heavy push” for O’Brien; it’s unknown if Philly has followed the Browns’ purported lead and already talked to the Nittany Lions coach.

Finally, in other Browns-related coaching news involving a college coach, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reported earlier today that Cleveland interviewed Syracuse’s Doug Marrone in Arizona.  Marrone was expected to interview with the Bills this week as well.

UPDATED 8:48 p.m. ET: According to Pete Thamel of SI.com, “Penn State is in the midst of a massive push to keep O’Brien… and has received positive indications that he’s strongly considering staying.”

Thamel went on to write “that the university is tugging at O’Brien’s heartstrings and attachment to the school that gave him his break to be a head coach.”

Whether or not the heartstring tugging, in concert with what’s expected to be the requisite bump in pay, will be enough to keep O’Brien in Happy Valley remains to be seen.

Mike Gundy delivered all-time line to son about how he’ll be coached at Oklahoma State

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Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy can drop some good zingers at any given moment. But his son, Gunnar Gundy, was on the receiving end of one of the all-time lines that is incredibly difficult to respond to.

When asked about the possibility of coaching his son at Oklahoma State, the head coach of the Cowboys stressed he would coach Gunnar just as he would any other player in the program. That means no preferential treatment even though there is a family bond in place. That is when Riley took the idea to another level.

As transcribed by The Oklahoman;

“When asked how he would coach his son, Gunnar, if the situation arose: “I told him, if you come to Oklahoma State, I’ll coach you like I do everybody else… If you’re the best player, you’ll play. If not, you won’t play — even though I’m sleeping with your mom.”

That is quite the classic recruiting sales pitch from the head coach of the Pokes. It’s certainly not a recruiting pitch that would work any other recruit. Or is it? We’ll stray from traveling down that path for now.

Gunnar Gundy is entering his senior year of high school football. As you would probably suspect, Oklahoma State is considered to be one of the favorites to land the quarterback. Gunnar could potentially follow in his father’s footsteps in Stillwater, as the current head coach is also a former quarterback for Oklahoma State.

Helmet sticker to Pistols Firing.

Matt Rhule doesn’t let stolen truck stop him from sticking to his schedule

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Baylor head coach Matt Rhule had a rough weekend. The head coach of the Bears had his truck stolen from the parking lot of a hotel. But rest assured, Rhule made it known that would not prevent him from getting to where he needed to be.

Rhule took to Twitter with a message to the party responsible for his stolen truck, confirming he would still find a way to attend an event organized by the Texas High School Coaches Association at Rice University.

As promised by Rhule, he made it to the event in Houston.

But it wasn’t just a truck that was stolen from Rhule either. Inside the truck was a set of golf clubs that didn’t belong to him, as noted by Baylor assistant coach Joey McGuire.

There is no indication at this time if the truck has or will be recovered. The same goes for the golf clubs. In the meantime, Rhule will have to keep on going about his business as he prepares for a new college football season with Baylor.

DJ Durkin resurfaces at Atlanta Falcons training camp

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DJ Durkin has rarely been seen, at least in the football sense, since Halloween, when he was fired by Maryland’s board one day after being reinstated. He briefly appeared as a consultant at Alabama, a move Nick Saban was forced to immediately defend, and not a peep has been heard from Durkin sense.

Until Monday.

The Atlanta Falcons have brought the disgraced coach aboard as a guest coach for training camp, the team has announced.

Durkin and Falcons head coach Dan Quinn worked together at Florida, where the latter was Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator and Durkin the special teams coordinator. Quinn coached with Durkin in 2011-12 before leaving for the same job with the Seattle Seahawks; Durkin was promoted to serve as Quinn’s replacement.

Asked by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution if he had any reservations about brining in Durkin, Quinn said, “I didn’t probably because I know who the person is having coached with him before. So, I knew his background as a defensive coach and special teams. By doing our due diligence from there. … An unfortunate situation, of course, but as far as eyes to look at the defense to help us, I definitely knew the advantage of that.”

The team said Durkin will watch practice for 10 days and consult with the Falcons’ coaching staff; he will not have any direct interaction with players.

“I know DJ first hand,” Quinn said. “I know what he is as a coach. I know what his character is. We did all of our due diligence, calling everybody at Maryland and had our own follow up.”

LSU looks to keep Butkus Award with four watch list honorees

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Continuing the parade of watch list honorees, the Butkus Award announced its list on Monday, given to the nation’s top linebacker. Fifty-one players made the cut — honoring the number 51 worn by the award’s namesake — a group that is at once diverse and uniform.

For instance, LSU placed four players on the list — K’Lavon Chaisson, Michael Divinity, Jr., Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen. Baton Rouge is the current home of the Butkus Award after Devin White won it in 2018.

LSU is far from the only team to boast multiple players under the eye of the Butkus Award committee. Alabama placed three (Anfernee JenningsTerrell Lewis and Dylan Moses), while Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Ohio State and Penn State placed two. On the flip side of that coin, nine of the 51 players hail from non-Power 5 schools, including a rare FCS appearance, from Montana’s Dante Olson. A consensus All-American and Phil Steele’s FCS Defensive Player of the Year, Olson compiled 151 tackles, 11 TFLs, six sacks, two interceptions and five passes defended in 2018.

Purdue’s Markus Bailey is a returning semifinalist, while Moses is looking to double-dip. He won the Butkus’s high school honor in 2016.

The full list:

Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Markus Bailey, Purdue
Mohamed Barry, Nebraska
Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Tuf Borland, Ohio State
Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
Cameron Brown, Penn State
T.J. Brunson, South Carolina
Calvin Bundage, Oklahoma State
K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
Michael Divinity Jr., LSU
Troy Dye, Oregon
Tony Fields II, Arizona
Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
Cale Garrett, Missouri
Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
Malik Harrison, Ohio State
Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
Dontavious Jackson, Florida State
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Clay Johnston, Baylor
Nate Landman, Colorado
Sage Lewis, FIU
Terrell Lewis, Alabama
Kamal Martin, Minnesota
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Dante Olson, Montana
Micah Parsons, Penn State
Jacob Phillips, LSU
Michael Pickney, Miami (Fla.)
Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (Fla.)
Patrick Queen, LSU
Chapelle Russell, Temple
Mohamed Sanogo, Mississippi
Colin Schooler, Arizona
Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Charles Snowden, Virginia
Justin Strnad, Wake Forest
Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
Davion Taylor, Colorado
Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
Joshua Uche, Michigan
Mykal Walker, Fresno State
Evan Weaver, California
Javin White, UNLV
Logan Wilson, Wyoming
David Woodward, Utah State