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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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Is Penn State's O'Brien ready for return to NFL?

Last year Penn State coach Bill O’Brien was involved with the openings at Cleveland and Philadelphia before opting to remain in Happy Valley.

Is Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien ready to return to the NFL? (Photo: AP)Could O’Brien now be ready for a return to the NFL? According to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora, he is.

La Confora reports that O’Brien has already been approached by the Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings. He’s also expected to be in play if (when?) the Washington Redskins sack Mike Shanahan.

O’Brien’s contract was amended in late June and he was given a raise of nearly $1 million, but according to La Canfora, the buyout in O’Brien’s contract is made up of only his base salary multiplied by the years left on his contract.

That figure that would total roughly $5 million, a number that wouldn’t scare off NFL clubs. Additionallly, La Canfora says there is some question whether or not “paying the buyout would actually come into play because of NCAA sanctions.”

O’Brien struggled with the decision of whether or not to return to the NFL last year, but he ultimately decided that he owed it to his players to stay at Penn State for a second season.

Still, it’s no secret that relations between him and the school frayed somewhat when Penn State was subjected to more post-Sandusky sanctions than expected, and with the recent resignations of quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden the timing might be right for O’Brien to make a move.

Most expect the Texans to ultimately go in a direction other than O’Brien, and guys like Jack Del Rio will be heavily involved with the Vikings should that job become available.

But with several top college coaches signing extensions and a few other NFL jobs expected to open, a coach with O’Brien’s experience in both college and the pros is certain to be in high demand.

Photo: AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Dec. 3

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck issued a statement reaffirming his support of head coach Dana Holgorsen.

West Virginia AD Oliver Luck (AP Photo)

West Virginia A,D. Oliver Luck says he believes in Dana Holgorsen. (Photo: AP)

In the statement, Luck said, “I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing. In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.”

In reality, there are 11.3 million reasons that Holgorsen’s job is safe — as in the amount it would cost the school to buy out his contract. Holgorsen should get his agent a nice Christmas present this year.

Miami (Ohio) has hired Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin as head coach.

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has fired longtime linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and second-year quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher, multiple sources confirmed to Lions247.

GatorBait.net reports that while former USC coach Lane Kiffin had a strong interest in the Florida offensive coordinator job at, but says that the Gators are unlikely to hire him. Mike Mularkey, Clay Helton and Blake Anderson are among the names we continue to hear. Arizona State’s Mike Norvell and UCLA’s Noel Mazzone are other names being mentioned.

According to AP writer Mark Long, Muschamp plans to scrap the pro-style system and switch to up-tempo an offense in 2014.

Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe has resigned.

Sources tell us Ball State’s Pete Lembo, Rice’s David Bailiff, Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason and Tulane’s Curtis Johnson could be candidates for the job.

Multiple sources feel it’s likely June Jones will either leave SMU on his own accord or be fired. The national media is starting to report some chatter as well.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz are expected to be among the candidates to fill the job should it open.

Sources tell us that Hawaii head coach Norm Chow is weary of the job already and that the school might be happy for him to move along. There are strong rumors June Jones could return.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson “has worked with the Tulane Board to reconfigure football coach Curtis Johnson’s contract, as well as those of his assistants.”

Auburn’s Jay Jacobs plans a raise for Gus Malzahn.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon says that Brady Hoke will lead the program “well into the future.” We assume that means he’s in no danger of losing his job (not that we ever thought he was).

Hoke says he has no plans to make any staff changes, even though many think he should.

According to the Tampa Tribune’s Joey Johnston, “USF coach Willie Taggart says he doesn’t anticipate any changes to his coaching staff.”

RealDawg reports that Washington athletic director Scott Woodward was “blindsided” by Steve Sarkisian’s move to USC and that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, once thought to be next in line, is now unlikely to land the job.

Jim Mora would have been a candidate if he had wanted to be, but he reports indicate that he has agreed to a six year extension to stay at UCLA. Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel and Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier are also rumored to be strong candidates, along with Boise State’s Chris Petersen and Vandy’s James Franklin.

The Seattle Times reports that Sarkisian’s buyout of $1.5 million is due within 30 days. the Times also reports that Wilcox would owe “$1 million, according to his contract. That penalty is triggered only if Wilcox leaves early ‘to take a position at another Pac 12 school, with the exception of Head Coach.'”

Huskies defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi would owe $410,000 if he were to leave.

Sports Radio KJR reports that Wilcox is headed to USC with Sarkisian.

Sources tell us that a loss to South Florida this weekend could mean the end of Kyle Flood’s tenure at Rutgers.

Western Kentucky’s Bobby Petrino says he won’t “deal with speculation” when asked if he was a candidate for other jobs.

Air Force’s Troy Calhoun is keeping quiet on possible staff changes.

We continue to hear that Florida International’s Ron Turner could go back to the NFL.

UNLV has given Bobby Hauck an extension.

At USC, Ed Orgeron has resigned and offensive coordinator Clay Helton will coach the Trojans bowl game.

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage has again voiced his support for his embattled head football coach.

“I firmly believe that Mike London is going to be successful here at the University of Virginia,” Littlepage said.

In other words, London and his big buyout are safe for another year.

Sources tell us that Nebraska’s Bo Pelini still might not be 100% safe.

An ugly bowl performance could make things dicey. In other words, nothing is certain. He probably makes it, but this is still one to watch.

ESPN reports that Pelini will have to pay for his latest rant:

“The Big Ten Conference on Monday issued a public reprimand of the Cornhuskers’ head coach and fined the university $10,000 for Pelini’s comments about the officiating in a loss to Iowa last week. University spokeswoman Chris Anderson said the money will come out of Pelini’s compensation.”

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The Coaching Wire: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013

Jason Gesser is the new quarterbacks coach at Wyoming. (Photo: Jim Urqhart/AP)

Jason Gesser is the new quarterbacks coach at Wyoming. (Photo: Jim Urqhart/AP)

Jason Gesser named Wyoming quarterbacks coach

Jason Gesser has been named quarterbacks coach on Dave Christensen’s Wyoming staff. Gesser, a former Washington State quarterback who finished seventh in the 2002 Heisman voting and led the Cougs to the 2003 Rose Bowl, was Idaho’s previously offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach stepped in as the interim head coach when Robb Akey was fired last season. Gesser fills the spot of former Cowboys’ receivers coach Jason Ray who left to take the same position at Oklahoma State. His connection to Wyoming was through Cowboys’ associate head coach Pete Kaligis, whom Gesser has known since Kaligis recruiting players from Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle, where Gesser was coaching in 2009. Wyoming offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, who previously coached quarterbacks, has been switched to running backs. Derek Sage will continue to coach wide receivers. Jim Harding and Kaligis will split time between offensive line and tight ends.


Nevada’s Ken Wilson headed to Washington State

Nevada assistant Ken Wilson has accepted a job on Mike Leach’s Washington State staff as linebacker coach. Wilson, who is longtime friends with retired Wolf Pack head coach Chris Ault, spent nearly 25 years at Nevada as an assistant coach and assistant athletic director at Nevada. He had three separate stints at Nevada (1989-92, 1994-95 and 2004-12) in a variety of roles, including time as the team’s defensive coordinator.


Anthony Midget to join Penn State staff

Less than two weeks after he left Georgia State for Marshall, defensive assistant Anthony Midget will join Bill O’Brien’s staff at Penn State. Midget takes the spot that became open when defensive coordinator Ted Roof left for Georgia Tech. Defensive backs coach John Butler was promoted, leaving his previous position vacant. Midget was GSU’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and secondary coach and special teams coordinator since 2008. He was an All-American defensive back at Virginia Tech and was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2000.


Former Colorado assistant J.D. Brookhart leaving college coaching

J.D. Brookhart, who served as Colorado’s passing game coordinator, tight ends and special teams coach under Jon Embree the past two years, has decided to leave college coaching to work with the Carl J and Margot A Johnson Foundation, a Dallas-based Christian organization he worked for in 2010. Embree’s entire staff was let go after going 1-11 last season. “I was fortunate enough to be in two places total — one move — in 14 years,” Brookhart told the Denver Post. “Now this is going to be four houses in five years for me. It’s not something I want to go and pursue a place where we could be let go in another three years.”

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