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.
College Park is taking on a decidedly Tuscaloosa feel to it.
Earlier this month, Maryland confirmed that it had hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head football coach. Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Butch Jones is leaving Nick Saban‘s program for a spot on Locksley’s Terrapins coaching staff.
Jones, who met with Locksley earlier this month before agreeing to take the job, is expected to serve as the Terps’ tight ends coach. He’ll also carry the title of associate head coach for the Big Ten program.
In March of this year, Saban added Jones to his Alabama football staff as an offensive analyst. Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year.
Jones last served as a tight ends coach in 1998 at Central Michigan; he was last a position coach at West Virginia (2005-06).
Per the terms of his UT contract, Jones will be paid just north of $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021. He made $35,000 as an analyst at Alabama this year.
After originally ending his collegiate career prematurely, Justin Murphy has now seen it extended.
Murphy took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. “None of this could’ve been possible if it weren’t for the amazing job done by [UCLA’s compliance department],” the offensive lineman wrote.
In the middle of the 2016 season, Murphy, then at Texas Tech, announced that he was taking a medical retirement because of knee injuries. In April of 2018, however, Murphy revealed that he would be moving on from Tech to UCLA as a graduate transfer.
Murphy played in the first four games of his first season with the Bruins this year before going down with a knee injury. That issue kept the lineman sidelined for all but the final two games of the year.
Maybe the fourth chance will be the charm for De’Andre Johnson?
After a highly-publicized incident that was caught on videotape, Johnson was dismissed by Florida State in July of 2015. Following a stint as one of the stars of “Last Chance U,” Johnson landed at Florida Atlantic.
Two years later, the quarterback took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer from Lane Kiffin‘s FAU program. Johnson gave no indication as to the specifics behind his decision to leave the Owls.
As noted by the player himself, Johnson will be leaving as a graduate transfer — he’s scheduled to earn his degree in the spring — and will have two seasons of eligibility he can use at another FBS program. One of the seasons of eligibility is the result of blood clots in his arm that sidelined him for all but one game in 2017.
This season, Johnson completed 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for another 178 and a score on 35 carries.
As for a potential transfer destination, the Palm Beach Post notes the West Coast or a Big Ten school could be possibilities:
A source with knowledge of the situation said Johnson hopes to move up to the Power Five level and hasn’t ruled out moving to the West Coast. Johnson’s younger brother, Tyreke, is a cornerback for Ohio State and Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a redshirt sophomore who could jump to the NFL.
In June of 2015, Johnson was indefinitely suspended by FSU after being accused of punching a woman at a bar. He was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery as video of the incident emerged.
One day after the video surfaced, Johnson was dismissed.
In filling a hole in his Utah coaching staff, Kyle Whittingham reached back to the Utes’ football past to do so.
Monday evening, Utah announced that Whittingham has hired Sione Po’uha as his new defensive tackles coach. Po’uha spent the 2018 season coaching the same position at Navy.
“It’s great to have Sione back in our program,” said Whittingham. “In his playing days he was an outstanding defensive tackle here at Utah and had a lengthy and successful NFL career as well. We are also excited about the impact he will have in our recruiting.”
From 2001-04, Po’uha was a defensive lineman for the Utes, earning first-team All-Mountain West honors as a senior. He was a third-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, and spent his entire eight-year career with the New York Jets.
After beginning his post-playing career as a student assistant at his alma mater from 2015-16, Po’uha became the Utes’ director of football player development in 2017 before leaving for Navy. The job at the service academy was the first on-field role of Po’uha’s coaching career.
“I am so appreciative of Coach Whittingham for giving me the opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater,” said Po’uha. “It was a dream of mine and I am excited about working with the players and coaches here.”