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Penn State Football Coach Search: Patriots’ O’Brien Set to Interview, Reports Say

by on January 04, 2012 11:30 PM

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is expected to interview with Penn State on Thursday to become its next head football coach.

USA Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and all have reported that the 42-year-old Brown alumnus will meet with Penn State.

O’Brien is the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Patriots, and has been with the team since 2007. He may be best known for his heated sideline argument with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady earlier this season.

For a video of ESPN's "First Take" on the Dec. 11 argument -- with commentary by Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and Eric Mangini -- click here.

Prior to joining New England, O’Brien was an assistant coach with four college teams – Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke. He served as offensive coordinator at both Georgia Tech and Duke. is reporting that O’Brien is also a candidate for the vacant head-coaching job with the league’s Jacksonville Jaguars. He is expected to interview with the Jaguars this weekend.

A native of Dorchester, Mass., O’Brien played collegiately at Brown, as did former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno was fired Nov. 9 in the wake of the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley served as the interim head coach of the Nittany Lions, who concluded their 9-4 season Monday with a 30-14 loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. Bradley is spending the week on the road recruiting.

O’Brien is the fourth NFL coach who has been linked to the head coaching job. All are offensive-minded coaches – and two work with the league’s top quarterbacks, Brady and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

Greg Roman, 39, the first-year offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, told a New Jersey radio station earlier this week that he interviewed for the position a month ago. A native of New Jersey, he spent two years as an assistant coach at Stanford under current 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Tom Clements, 58, the quarterback coach for the Green Bay Packers, has already interviewed for the job via Skype. Numerous sources said he is scheduled to have another interview later this week. Clements, a native of McKees Rocks, Pa., quarterbacked Notre Dame to the 1973 national championship. He later served as assistant head coach at his alma mater, before moving on to coach for several NFL teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mike Munchak, 51, has been with the Tennessee Titans’ organization since 1982, and just completed his first season as head coach. An NFL Hall of Fame offensive guard, Munchak was a standout player for the Nittany Lions in 1979 and ’81. Munchak did not formally interview with Penn State, but several sources said he did reach out to several former teammates and Penn State players in anticipation of putting together a staff if he were to be hired.

Both Green Bay and New England have first-round byes in the NFL playoffs and do not play this weekend.

Related content's PSU football coach search page

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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