Doug Marrone

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Report: Michigan RB coach Tyrone Wheatley expected to leave for NFL’s Jaguars

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Former Michigan running back and current running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley could be heading back to the NFL. According to a report from The Sporting News, Wheatley is expected to be joining the coaching staff of the Jacksonville Jaguars under new head coach and former head coach of Syracuse Doug Marrone.

Wheatley previously worked with Marrone at Syracuse and with the Buffalo Bills before returning to his alma mater to join the coaching staff under Jim Harbaugh. Since his return to Michigan, Wheatley has been praised as a talented recruiter, perhaps one of the best in the country. His departure for the NFL, however, is not a finalized deal at this time, although it has been reported the Jaguars have shown interest.

Wheatley’s son, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., currently plays tight end for the Wolverines.

College coaching carousel has stopped for now, but NFL just getting started

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With Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh to be the next head coach of the Wolverines, the college football coaching carousel, as far as head coaches are concerned, seems to have come to a stop for the 2014-2015 cycle. Unless any head coaches are going to take on a lesser role at another program (unlikely, but not unprecedented), we should be set for coaching changes this year unless the NFL has something to say about it.

The coaching carousel is just getting started up in the NFL, with a total of six head coaching vacancies to fill between the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, and the Harbaugh-less San Francisco 49ers. Will any of these six NFL franchises find their next head coach from a college program? This is by no means unprecedented.

Last January saw Bill O’Brien leave Penn State for the Houston Texans. The previous January (2012) saw Chip Kelly leave Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles and Syracuse lose Doug Marrone to the Buffalo Bills (Marrone just opted out of his contract with the Bills after two seasons, while Kelly has been given a nice boost in job status). Each of those hires happened after it looked as though the dust had settled on the coaching carousel for those respective seasons. So the question looms; will any current college football coaches pack up and leave the college ranks for a shot at NFL glory, in hopes of being the next Pete Carroll?

With the NFL coaching searches and interviews starting to heat up along with the constant coaching rumor mill that powers the carousel, there have been few discussions about college coaches being considered for NFL head coaching jobs outside of hypothetical conversations about potential options (Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn). One coach that has been connected to a possible opening is UCLA head coach Jim Mora.

The New York Jets reportedly reached out to Mora about a possible buyout terms with his contract at UCLA. The San Francisco vacancy would seem to make sense as well, if the 49ers had any interest. Mora seemed to burn out in the NFL with his stints with the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, but UCLA reignited a spark under Mora’s leadership. With UCLA’s resurgence in the past few seasons, Mora’s stock as a head coach has gone up, even with some questionable acts along the way.

With Mora being the only college name attached to any of the coaching vacancy rumors at this point might suggest the dust will be able to settle on this year’s college coaching carousel, but until the final spot is filled in the NFL there will be no guarantees. The process of hiring a new coach in the NFL can take some time due to rules like the Rooney Rule being put in place and teams needing to ask for permission from franchisees with coaches currently in the playoffs, but the lack of search firms being hired can make the process more streamlined in the NFL.

Doug Marrone says Bill O’Brien not leaving Penn State for NFL

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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.