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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Jan. 14

It looks like Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason has emerged as the favorite to replace James Franklin at Vanderbilt.

Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason (Photo: Nick Ut, AP)

Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason (Photo: Nick Ut, AP)

Multiple sources tell us that Mason is the leading candidate for the job, and CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler reports an interview is scheduled.

Alabama has hired Texas assistant (and former Crimson Tide assistant) Bo Davis to coach defensive line.

Sources tell us to expect even more movement on Nick Saban’s staff. Multiple sources indicate secondary coach Greg Brown is likely to move on. We’re also told there could be one to two other changes.

SI.com’s Pete Thamel reports longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson could join Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State.

The 61-year-old Johnson, a PSU assistant since 1996, told PennLive on Monday night he met with Franklin twice and was offered the opportunity to continue as defensive line coach at Penn State.

But, after considering the offer, LJ decided to move on. He said he has not retired and plans to continue coaching.

OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel joined Bill O’Brien’s Texans staff.

Speaking of the Buckeyes, Adam Caplan reports should Jim Caldwell wind up getting the Lions head coaching job, he could add former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to his offensive staff.

The Seattle Times reports Washington’s eight new assistant coaches are guaranteed a combined salary north of $3 million in their first year on Chris Petersen’s staff, making them among the highest-paid staffs in the Pac-12 Conference.

Hot names for the UAB head coaching job include Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, Hoover High School head coach Josh Niblett and former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.

Texas‘ new football coach, Charlie Strong, will be paid $5 million for the 2014 season and the school will pay Strong’s $4.375 million buyout to Louisville, according to financial terms approved Monday by the university system’s board of regents.

Sources indicate offensive line coach Joe Wickline and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson are likely to run the Longhorns’ offense together.

Horns247 reports Les Koenning Jr., Joker Phillips and Mike Groh are the three leading contenders for the wide receivers position. The receivers job is the last vacant spot on the Longhorns’ staff.

Dawgs247 reports Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt has emerged as the leader to replace Todd Grantham as Georgia’s defensive coordinator.

DuckTerritory reports that Oregon will hire longtime assistant Don Pellum as its new defensive coordinator and that the Ducks will look to hire Philadelphia Eagles assistant Erik Chinander to fill out the staff.

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Reports: James Franklin will be next Penn State coach

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin will replace Bill O’Brien as Penn State head coach, according to multiple media reports.

Vanderbilt's James Franklin will be named Penn State head coah. (Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP)A Pennsylvania native, the 41-year-old Franklin won 24 games in three seasons with the Commodores.

He led Vanderbilt to three consecutive bowl games and back-to-back 9-win seasons in 2012 and 2013.

No other Vanderbilt coach has guided the program to more than one bowl, and the school had only played in four bowl games in the 107 years prior to Franklin’s arrival.

This season also was marked first time the Commodores beat Georgia, Florida and Tennessee in the same year.

Franklin’s Pennsylvania roots run strong. The Langhorne, Pa. native played at Division II East Stroudsburg and began his coaching career at Kutztown.

Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP

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Penn State coaching search update

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin may be the frontrunner to be the next Penn State coach, but with his NFL options still on the table, the Nittany Lions don’t appear to be done vetting candidates.

Greg Roman (left) has spent the past five seasons working for Jim Harbaugh. (Photo: AP)

Greg Roman (left) has spent the past five seasons working for Jim Harbaugh. (Photo: AP)

CBSSports.com‘s Jason La Canfora reported Wednesday that Penn State officials will interview San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman about the job.

No timeline or other details on the interview were given.

Roman has been Jim Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator the past five seasons — three with the 49ers and two at Stanford. The two seasons at Stanford are Roman’s only college coaching experience.

San Francisco faces Carolina in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Sunday.

On Tuesday, CBSSports’ Bruce Feldman said that Vanderbilt’s Franklin had emerged as the “clear frontrunner” for the Penn State job.

Fuel was poured on the fire when word got out that Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive coordinator John Donovan began following Penn State commitments on Twitter.

David Williams, the man who oversees Vanderbilt athletics and Franklin’s boss, told to The Tennessean that he met with his head football coach Tuesday night, but didn’t say much else.

“I can’t shed any light on that,” Williams said. “I can only tell you that I met with James last night. I’m not going to get into details of the discussion.

“James came in yesterday from working with ESPN on the BCS Championship game and I met with him last night. I met with my football coach. I’m not going to get into details of the substance. I’ve probably already said more than I should”

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Wednesday morning that the Washington Redskins still intend to interview Franklin on Thursday, and that the Cleveland Browns would likely interview Franklin as well.

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Friday, Jan. 3

The names on the Texas coaching search board appear to be dropping quickly.

Where will Steve Patterson turn to find Texas' next head coach? (Photo: Deborah Cannon, AP)

Where will Steve Patterson turn to find Texas’ next head coach? (Photo: Deborah Cannon, Austin American-Statesman/AP)

If recent reports are to be believed, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is off the table. Now Baylor’s Art Briles and UCLA’s Jim Mora have both stated publicly that they are not interested in the job and are not candidates.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio signed an extension. The news was announced Wednesday night just before Sparty’s Rose Bowl win over Stanford.

The school reportedly plans to make Dantonio one of the three highest-paid coaches in the Big Ten, and his assistants will become one of three highest-paid staffs in the conference.

If those names are gone, where does Texas athletic director Steve Patterson turn?

Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin are the other names most prominently linked to the job.

According to an Orangebloods.com report, Patterson has already interviewed both Strong and Franklin.

Despite the recent announcement of Fisher’s contract extension, sources continue to tell us that Fisher is not out of the mix at Texas. In fact HookEm247 believes that Fisher is likely the favorite to land the job.

Speaking of Fisher’s new deal, the Tallahassee Democrat reports that FSU built in an overall salary increase of 17 percent for the Seminoles’ nine assistant coaches. It’s up to Fisher to decide which assistants receive raises and how much.

The Gazette reports  former Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple will interview for the UMass job next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday. UMass fired Charley Molnar on Dec. 26.

Penn State AD Dave Joyner says the school could have a new head coach “in a matter of days rather than weeks.”

Longtime Nittany Lions defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been named the interim head coach. PennLive reports wide receivers coach Stan Hixon set to join Bill O’Brien’s staff with the Houston Texans.

Lions247 reports five names have risen to the top of the early list of potential interviewees: Miami head coach Al Golden, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and Johnson.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Caldwell interviewed for the Redskins head coaching vacancy Wednesday, and is also expected to interview for the Lions head job.

Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean reports that Titans coach Mike Munchak is still in limbo. No decision has been made on his future as coach. Munchak is thought to be a candidate for the Penn State job.

The Cleveland Browns are focusing largely – but not entirely – on college coaches. Jason La Canfora reports they are very interested in interviewing Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s Franklin for their head coaching vacancy.

Sources close to Malzahn indicate that, while he might have an interested in moving to the NFL at some point in the future, he’d be likley pass on Cleveland now.

Tony Softli reports that Oklahoma head coach and Ohio native Bob Stoops may have the inside track on the Cleveland Browns opening.

ESPN reports that an NFL source insists Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is open to coaching a select professional team or two.

A source close to Sumlin tells us otherwise.

“That’s 100 percent not true, and it has no chance of happening. Zero.”

Sumlin has passed on several inquiries and job opportunities from NFL and high-profile collegiate jobs, including USC, sources said.

Sumlin is committed to coaching Texas A&M until the school finishes its $450 million renovation of Kyle Field. The renovation, which also has been labeled a redevelopment, is being done in three phases, with the grand opening set for August 2015.

Former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford will be offensive coordinator at Tampa Bay.

Sources indicate that FSU quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders could be a candidate to replace Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator at Duke. Sanders and Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe have a long history dating back to Tennessee.

Sources also indicate Blue Devils offensive line coach John Latina could be in play to be the offensive line coach at Florida.

DuckTerritory reports that Randy Shannon and Clancy Pendergast are among the possibilities for the defensive coordinator job at Oregon.

Secondary coach John Neal was believed to be a serious candidate, but it now appears head coach Mark Helfrich is intent on bringing someone in from the outside.

Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville has fired defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and defensive tackles coach Fred Tate, according to reports.

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Trio of underclassman wide receivers declare for NFL Draft

A trio of top underclassman receivers announced Thursday that they would enter the NFL Draft.

Texas A&M redshirt sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans will forego his remaining collegiate eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. (Photo: David J. Phillip, AP)Texas A&M sophomore Mike Evans, along with juniors Brandin Cooks of Oregon State and Allen Robinson of Penn State announced their intention to forego their remaining college eligibility.

Evans’ decision is hardly a surprise. Reports surfaced late last week that he and A&M quarterback Johnny Maniel would be turning pro.

In two seasons with the Aggies, the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Evans caught 151 passes for 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns. He averaged more than 20 yards per reception this season.

Cooks (5-10, 186) the 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner, led the nation with 1,730 receiving yards. He is second in receptions (128) and receiving touchdowns (16).

Robinson (6-3, 210), the Big Ten receiver of the year each of the past two seasons, caught 97 passes 1,432 and six touchdowns in 2013. He ranks second in receptions (177) and third in receiving yardage (2,474) on Penn State’s all-time lists.

“It was a great honor to play at Penn State,” Robinson said in a release. “I am blessed to have played with, and for, the people in the Penn State football program.

“This is a decision that I believe is best for my family and I, and I wish all the best to the University and all my teammates.”

Robinson is projected as a first-round selection.

Photo: David J. Phillip, AP

For a complete list of college underclassmen that have declared for the NFL Draft, click HERE.

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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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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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