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Report: Bill O'Brien to be named Texans coach

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has reached an agreement to replace Gary Kubiak as head coach of the Houston Texans, according to reports.

Will Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien be the next Houston Texans' coach? (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)ESPN reports that the deal is expected to be announced no later than Saturday.

O’Brien, a Bill Belichick protege, was an offensive assistant with New England from 2007 to 2011. He left the Patriots prior to the 2012 season to take over Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

The Nittany Lions went 15-9 under O’Brien, including 10-6 in the Big Ten. He was named conference coach of the year in 2012.

Reports initially surfaced last week that O’Brien was a prime target of Texans owner Bob McNair and that he would interview for the job.

Shortly after those reports surfaced, five-star defensive tackle and Penn State commit Thomas Holley told reporters that he spoke with O’Brien and the Nittany Lions coach told him the rumors were “not true.”

O’Brien’s NFL buyout was reduced from $13 million to $6.5 million in March, opening up doors for his return to the NFL.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP

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Source: Charlie Strong has not interviewed for Texas job

A report surfaced Monday that Louisville’s Charlie Strong met with Texas officials regarding the Longhorns’ head coaching vacancy, but a source close to the situation tells Football Rumor Mill that is not true. At least not yet.

Sources indicate that even if the NFL comes calling, expect Charlie Strong to stay put in college.Orangebloods.com’s Chip Brown reported that Texas athletic director Steve Patterson met with Strong at an undisclosed location.

While the situation could certainly change, our sources say that Strong did not meet with Patterson on Tuesday and was not scheduled to interview Tuesday night.

Brown reports that Patterson has also already met with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and wants to talk to Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Other names mentioned with the Texas opening include Baylor’s Art Briles and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher.

Earlier on Monday, word leaked that Fisher had signed a new contract, but don’t assume that will keep him with the Seminoles. Sources indicate he remains a legitimate candidate.

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Report: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher signs contract extension

Reports surfaced before Florida State’s Dec. 7 ACC Championship Game win over Duke that Jimbo Fisher had agreed to a contract extension to remain the Seminoles’ coach.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has reportedly signed a contract extension to remain the Seminoles' coach. (Photo: John Raoux, AP)Word leaked soon after that Fisher had not yet signed the agreement, and his name has been mentioned prominently as a potential replacement for Mack Brown at Texas.

Now, according to a Warchant.com report, all the terms of Fisher’s new deal have been finalized and the agreement has been signed.

Full details were not available, but the new deal reportedly will pay Fisher a base salary of over $4.1 million a year, according to Warchant, is “very ‘incentive laden.’”

Whether the signing of the contract extension will quell the Fisher-to-Texas rumors remain to be seen. However, according to Warchant, a source close to Fisher says he is happy in Tallahassee and isn’t interested in the opening at Texas.

The Longhorns have reportedly narrowed their list of potential coaches to Fisher, Baylor’s Art Briles, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong.

In his fourth season at Florida State, Fisher is 44-10.

The Seminoles face Auburn for the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.

Photo: John Raoux, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Sunday, Dec. 29

There’s certainly plenty of smoke that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is primed for a return to the NFL.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien will be named head coach of the Houston Texans. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)It’s been making the news rounds the past couple of weeks, and now ESPN reports that O’Brien has emerged as the overwhelming favorite to become the next coach of the Houston Texans, and the two sides are working to get a deal in place within the next week.

Lions247 reports Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln five-star defensive tackle and Nittany Lions commit Thomas Holley spoke with O’Brien Saturday night regarding the ESPN report that O’Brien was in the process of working on a deal to become the Houston Texans next head coach.

“I just off the phone with him,” Holley told 247Sports Luke Stampini. “He said he isn’t going. It’s not true.”

The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reports that Texans owner Bob McNair said the search for the team’s next head coach “isn’t over.”

“The process continues,” he said. “We have other interviews scheduled next week. It isn’t over.”

CBSSports reports Chargers offensive coordinator and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be given strong consideration for the Texans job.

Reports surfaced Friday that Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was expected to accept the same position on Steve Sarkisian’s USC staff.

Now, DuckTerritory is reporting that Oregon has targeted Wilcox to replace the longtime outgoing DC Nick Aliotti. If the Ducks miss on Wilcox, they more than likely promote John Neal to the position.

There are all sorts of rumors flying around linking Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to the Detroit Lions job. However, it looks as if Kelly is likely to stay put.

Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder will become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator. VanGorder was defensive coordinator at Auburn, Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons.

Multiple sources tell us North Carolina assistant Walt Bell will be the new offensive coordinator at Arkansas State. He had been considered a leading candidate to take over for the departed Blake Anderson, but it looks like Bell will instead join Anderson instead.

InsideCarolina reports that Bell is receiving a two-year contract at $225,000 per year in his new position at Arkansas State, which is less than what UNC offered.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora could look to his former offensive coordinator and current Texas co-OC Darrell Wyatt as his next play caller.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Toledo Blade there are no plans to renegotiate with head coach Urban Meyer before next season, but he knows Ohio State “will have to face that music down the road.”

At Texas, there’s a lot of smoke around Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. If the Texas search drags until the BCSNCG, the speculation surrounding Fisher could reach a fever pitch.

Fisher hasn’t even issued a non-denial denial, saying only, “I’m going to talk about our team. That’s all I’m talking about. I ain’t getting into all the rumors.”

At some point, those rumors are likely to become a distraction for the Seminoles, who will play for the National Championship on January 6th.

The Dallas News reports Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson has begun to focus on at least a handful of candidates including Fisher, Baylor’s Art Briles. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong are also considered to be in the mix.

The News also reports that Alabama’s Nick Saban is a possibility, although that may be a long shot. Other candidates could also emerge.

Horns247 reports that Fisher’s counterpart in the National Championship Game, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, is not a candidate at Texas.

Mack Brown is contractually obligated to receive at least $500,000 annually through 2020, but Texas’ soon-to-be former head football coach is pushing for a lot more.

Don Evans, a former UT regent and one-time U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is involved with Brown’s buyout negotiations with school officials, said Joe Jamail, Brown’s attorney and Texas benefactor.

UCF head coach George O’Leary confirmed on Saturday that he has hired Paul Ferraro as the Knights new defensive coordinator.

Ferraro coached under O’Leary as a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1983 and also coached defensive backs on O’Leary’s staff at Georgia Tech in 1999-2000.

The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu reports new Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will make $600,000 a year. The length of the contract is unknown.

Sources tell us that West Virginia offensive line coach Ron Crook could be the leading candidate to take over the same job at Wake Forest.

Crook is a West Virginia native who arrived in Morgantown via Stanford prior to the 2013 season.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP

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Report: Penn State's Bill O'Brien to interview for Texans job

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien’s possible return to the NFL is looking more and more like a reality.

Is Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien ready to return to the NFL? (Photo: AP)O’Brien has been rumored to be one of the Texans’ top targets to replace Gary Kubiak, and according to Ian Rapoport on the NFL Network’s “Around the League Live,” O’Brien and the Texans agreed to an interview “after Christmas.”

With a track record of success both at the college and NFL levels, O’Brien is considered an especially valuable commodity.

O’Brien’s NFL buyout was reduced from $13 million to $6.5 million in March, and while that may still seem like a lot relative to other college buyouts, it is a relatively small sum for an NFL owner

Former Bears coach Lovie Smith has already interviewed for the Texans job.

O’Brien’s last NFL gig was as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator in 2011. He was announced as long-time Penn State coach Joe Paterno’s replacement in January 2012, and went 8-4 in his first season, followed by a 7-5 record in his second.

Photo: AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Sunday, Dec. 22

USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who guided the Trojans to a 45-20 victory over Fresno State on Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl, will be retained by new coach Steve Sarkisan, according to the Los Angeles Times.

USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be part of Steve Sarkisian's staff. (Photo: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times)

USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be part of Steve Sarkisian’s staff. (Photo: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times)

Sarkisian has hired three former Washington assistants — Johnny Nansen, Keith Heyward and Peter Sirmon — but is still in the process of assembling his Trojans staff.

A source at USC with knowledge of the hiring process told the Times that megarecruiter Tosh Lupoi’s chance of being hired by USC was now “less than zero,” as both USC and Washington are investing whether the ace recruiter violated NCAA rules by paying for private tutoring and online classes for a recruit.

Barring a last minute change of heart, blockbuster names like Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh appear to be off the board for Texas.

Multiple sources tell us that Jimbo Fisher has emerged as the most likely target for the Longhorns. Other coaches like Baylor’s Art Briles and LSU’s Les Miles are also garnering interest according to informed sources.

HookEm247 reports Briles, Charlie Strong of Louisville, Jim Mora of UCLA, Pat Fitzgerald or Northwestern, Al Golden of Miami and James Franklin of Vanderbilt are among the candidates that could emerge as the search progresses.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops expects his coaching staff to remain intact.

Florida has officially announced the departure of linebackers and special teams coach Jeff Choate. A former longtime Boise State assistant, Choate is expected to be heading to Washington to join Chris Petersen’s staff.

Will Muschamp added Coleman Hutzler as special teams coach on Friday.

Hutzler is a former Gators grad assistant that spent the last two years at New Mexico, where the special teams units made immediate improvements.

Sources tell us new Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson was very close to becoming the new offensive coordinator for the Gators.

Where is Muschamp now? It’s anyone’s guess.

Most of the initial names we heard (Anderson, Arizona State’s Mike Norvell, UCLA’s Noel Mazzone) have agreed to new deals. Nebraska’s Tim Beck may or may not still be on the board.

CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler reports that Ohio State co-OC Ed Warinner has interviewed for the Army job. Warinner was an Army assistant and coordinator from 1987-99.

Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken has interviewed, while Jets special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica was scheduled to interview this weekend.

Tampa Bay Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, a former Army player, is also expected to interview for the job.

Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers accepted the James Madison head coaching position Friday.

Utah has hired former Wyoming coach Dave Christensen as its offensive coordinator.

Kyle Whittingham used both Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson as co-offensive coordinators in 2013. Both Erickson and Johnson have been demoted to running backs and quarterbacks coach, respectively.

Boise State quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith will join Chris Petersen‘s staff at Washington.

With the departure of offensive coordinator Blake Anderson, two names to watch are current tight ends coach Walt Bell and current Texas co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt.

Wyatt was one of Fedora’s first hires when he first landed the Southern Miss job six seasons ago.

Texas A&M has promoted Jake Spavital to offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

Clarence McKinney, who served as the offensive coordinator, playcaller and running backs coach this past season for the Aggies, will remain on staff as the running backs coach.

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USC, Washington investigating ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi

USC and Washington are investing whether Huskies assistant and ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi violated NCAA rules by paying for private tutoring and online classes for a recruit.

Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi (left) and former Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian. (Photo: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures)

Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi (left) and former Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian. (Photo: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures)

According to an LA Times report, the allegations surround the recruitment of Andrew Basham, a former defensive lineman at Lynnwood (Wa.) High.

Basham signed a letter of intent with Washington last February but failed to qualify academically.

Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Lupoi, “gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.”

Lupoi, who played at Cal from 2000-05, joined new USC coach Steve Sarkisian’s staff at Washington in 2012 after serving as Cal’s defensive line coach for four seasons. He is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top recruiters.

The Times said Lupoi did not return phone calls for interview requests, but did respond to the allegations in a text message that read, “Well that’s certainly false. I deny such allegations of violating NCAA rules w/ the recruitment of Andrew Basham.”

USC officials confirmed that Lupoi is among the coaches that Sarkisian listed as potential candidates to become Trojans assistants, and the school said that all possible names were vetted. Last week, both USC’s compliance office and the Times received a tip from someone who said Davis had been the middleman in a transaction between Lupoi and a recruit.

After speaking with both Davis and also with Sarkisian, USC’s vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts told The Times that he does not believe Sarkisian knew about the alleged activity.

“We don’t have concerns about Steve’s involvement,” Roberts said.

Sarkisian has hired three former Washington assistants — Johnny Nansen, Keith Heyward and Peter Sirmon — but is still in the process of assembling his USC staff.

A source at USC with knowledge of the hiring process told the Times that Lupoi’s chance of being hired by USC was now “less than zero.”

Lupoi is currently part of Washington’s interim staff that is preparing for Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl game against BYU. New Washington coach Chris Petersen has yet to finalize his staff.

Shondell Reed, Washington’s senior associate athletic director for compliance, said Lupoi informed him last Friday that The Times was about to publish an article about allegations regarding Basham’s recruitment. Reed then alerted the Pac-12 Conference office and was told that USC had received a tip and was investigating.

Reed told the Times that that he did not know the specifics of the allegations but that Lupoi “denies any wrongdoing or violations of NCAA rules. He said he doesn’t know why he would be accused of this and vehemently denies doing anything wrong.”

Davis is scheduled to meet with officials from Washington and USC in Seattle on Friday.

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