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Tag:Bill O'Brien
Posted on: February 18, 2012 6:25 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 6:26 pm
 

Bill O'Brien finalizes first staff at Penn State

Posted by Bryan Fischer

New Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has finalized his coaching staff for the 2012 season with the hire of Charlie Fisher as quarterbacks coach. Fisher joins the Nittany Lions after one season at Miami of Ohio as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“With the hiring of Charlie Fisher as quarterbacks coach, we have completed the Penn State football coaching staff,” O’Brien said in a release. “This is a staff made up of men who care about the mission of Penn State University and being successful on and off the field.  It is also a staff of winners, with five staff members that have been a part of national championship teams as assistant coaches.  This is a staff that has won many games; some while being a part of the same staff, and is a staff comprised of former head coaches, coordinators and tremendous recruiting experience.”

Fisher spent nine years on the Vanderbilt staff, the last five as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. While with the Commodores, he was helped with the development of quarterback Jay Cutler and coached the SEC's all-time receptions leader, wide receiver Earl Bennett. Fisher also had coaching stops at N.C. State, Temple and Eastern Kentucky.

Wide receivers coach Stan Hixon, running backs coach Charles London, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, tight ends coach John Strollo, defensive coordinator Ted Roof, secondary coach John Butler, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden round out the Nittany Lions staff.

Penn State will start spring practice on March 26. The annual Blue-White spring game will be Saturday, April 21 in Beaver Stadium.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 8:36 pm
 

Big Ten head coaches already upset with Meyer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It appears that the grace period for new coaches in the Big Ten lasts for 65 days or only one National Signing Day. That's how long it took for fellow Big Ten coaches to publicly speak about being upset with new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.

Not surprisingly, the complaints from Wisconsin's Bret Bielema and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio are related to Meyer's recruiting tactics. Particularly the part where he just shows up, swoops in and then causes recruits to suddenly change their minds and flock to Columbus.

“There are a few things that happened early on that I made people aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league, that I had seen take place in other leagues,” said Bielema on Wednesday. “Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. 

“I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact, actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him. The situation got rectified.”

Michigan State's Mark Dantonio was a bit more to the point.

"(Ohio State has) a new coach, and it's different," Dantonio told the Detroit News. "I would say it's pretty unethical, in the end." 

It seems that Bielema and Dantonio aren't used to the recruiting tactics Meyer has brought along from his days in the SEC, where the gentlemanly rules of the Big Ten do not exist. It seems SEC coaches know that no commitment means anything until a letter of intent is signed, so the race for any recruit they might want doesn't end before February.

Question the morality of it all you want, but you'll notice the SEC has won the last six national championships while the Big Ten has been rather uninspiring.

Meyer's first class at Ohio State was good enough to finish ranked third in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. In that class of 24, 10 of the commits didn't come on board until after Meyer became head coach at Ohio State. Of those 10 players, eight had previously given commitments to other school.

Including offensive lineman Kyle Dodson (Wisconsin) and defensive end Se'Von Pittman (Michigan State). Hence the reactions of Bielema and Dantonio. Still, of the other six, four had been committed to Penn State and two to Notre Dame. You don't hear Bill O'Brien or Brian Kelly crying foul about it today.

Not that complaining will do anything to deter Meyer. He's a head coach that realizes in order to build a successful program, not only do you need to have a good coaching staff, but you have to have good players. Players that are found through recruiting.

So whine about how he does all you want, he's seen the fruits of his efforts and has a couple rings to show for it. Nothing anybody can say will change that.

Other Big Ten coaches can either get on board, or run the risk of being left behind.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:36 pm
 

Bill O'Brien not concerned with PSU's recruiting

Posted by Tom Fornelli

National Signing Day is on Wednesday, but new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has some other things on his mind right now. He's currently in Indianapolis working on a game plan for the New England Patriots offense in Sunday's Super Bowl. Which is a game that is a rather big deal in the world of football, just in case you've never heard of it.

Of course, it's because of the double-duty that O'Brien is pulling that he hasn't been able to pay much attention to helping put Penn State's 2012 recruiting class together, and when asked about it on Tuesday, O'Brien gave an answer that probably won't be music to the ears of Penn State fans.

"I'll get a fax of our signees. I already have a pretty good idea of who they are going to be," said O'Brien. "It's really about the Patriots and making sure we're ready for today's practice, tomorrow's meeting and Sunday's game."

Not exactly what you want to hear from your head coach, is it?

That being said, Penn State knew the deal when it hired O'Brien, and was well aware of the possibility that he could still be working with the Patriots at this point, so it's hard to get mad at O'Brien for feeling this way.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 5:17 pm
 

SEC West coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. First, the West:

ALABAMA

2011: Jim McElwain offensive coordinator, Kirby Smart defensive.
Departures: McElwain accepted the job as Colorado State head coach.
2012: McElwain has been replaced by Washington OC Doug Nussmaier.

Thumbs up/down? Firmly up. Some of that is the hire of Nussmaier, who -- once freed from trying to turn Jake Locker into the efficient college QB he was never going to be -- coaxed Keith Price into becoming one of 2011's breakout stars and the Huskies to a 24th-place finish in yards-per-play. (It doesn't hurt that Nussmaier cut his coordinating teeth in the same Fresno State program McElwain did.) But even bigger was that the Tide retained the services of Smart for another year, despite his having overseen a 2011 'Bama defense that merely ranked among the best the game has ever seen.

ARKANSAS

2011: Garrick McGee offensive, Willy Robinson defensive.
Departures: McGee took the UAB head coaching positionRobinson resigned after four up-and-down years in Fayetteville.
2012: Paul Petrino returns to his brother's staff as OC after two seasons at Illinois; Paul Haynes arrives as DC after seven years at Ohio State.

Thumbs up/down? Up. It's hard to imagine a snugger fit for the offense than the same person who ran it for two successful seasons in 2008 and 2009. Haynes is unproven as a defensive play-caller -- Jim Heacock handled those duties for the Buckeyes -- but there's no arguing with the overall defensive success OSU experienced during Haynes' stay in Columbus. Anything approaching a Buckeye-esque D in 2012 will be a big improvement on the Robinson era.

AUBURN

2011: Gus Malzahn offensive, Ted Roof defensive.
Departures: Malzahn is now the head coach at Arkansas State; Roof avoided a potential dismissal by first taking the UCF DC's job, then rejoining old Duke colleague Bill O'Brien at Penn State.
2012: Temple OC and longtime Michigan/Florida QB coach Scot Loeffler will run the offenseAtlanta Falcons DC Brian VanGorder the defense.

Thumbs up/down? Up. VanGorder is a smash hire with a successful track record both in the NFL and the SECthe sort of coach who should return the Tigers' defense to respectability in a hurry. Loeffler is a young, highly respected up-and-comer who's been due for an OC gig like Auburn's, but his pro-style leanings and early talk about "helping our defense and special teams" signals a wrenching shift in philosophy from Malzahn's no-huddle spread. Is he sharp enough to overcome what could be some serious transitional hiccups?

LSU

2011: Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa offensive, John Chavis defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. Despite the horrorshow put on by the Tigers in the BCS national title game, after a 13-0 regular season (and 17th-place finish in scoring offense) Les Miles is entirely justified in looking to tweak the LSU play-calling rather than overhaul it. And Chavis, of course, continues to quietly roll along as one of the college game's most productive assistants.

OLE MISS

2011: David Lee offensive, Tyrone Nix defensive.
Departures: Both Lee and Nix, swept out along with Houston Nutt.
2012: Hugh Freeze brought Arkansas State DC Dave Wommack with him while hiring former Rebel OC Dan Werner out of college-coaching retirement.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively down, which is not to say there aren't positives. Freeze will have a heavy hand in running the Rebel offense, so Werner's time away from the game won't hurt much, and the veteran is highly familiar with both the Mississippi recruiting trails and the Rebel program. Wommack, meanwhile, enjoyed an excellent 2011 season overseeing a resurgent Red Wolves defense. But both coaches' resumes are more solid than spectacular; for a head coach (and a program) with plenty of question marks of his (and its) own to answer, a legitimate needle-moving hire would have been helpful.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2011: Les Koenning offensive, Chris Wilson defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Wilson's first season in charge of the Bulldog D (after a promotion from coaching the defensive line) was promising, with a rapidly-improving unit holding four of their final six FBS opponents under 4 yards per-play. But the Bulldog offense was a disappointment, finishing ninth in both total yards and yards per-play in conference games; though Dan Mullen's close oversight of the offense means Koenning can't be blamed for those struggles, you could argue a switch might have given the Bulldog O a spark this offseason ... even if we won't.

TEXAS A&M

2011: Mike Sherman as his own OC, Tim DeRuyter defensive.
Departures: The fired Sherman, obviously. DeRuyter landed on his feet as the Fresno State head coach.
2012: Kevin Sumlin brought Houston co-OC Kliff Kingsbury with him as play-caller and hired Mark Snyder away from USF as DC.

Thumbs-up/down? Up. Though the Sumlin/Kingsbury tag team may miss Jason Phillips (the Cougars' other co-OC, now at SMU), it's hard to argue with Sumlin over any plan for his offense, given what he (with Kingsbury's help) accomplished at Houston. Snyder, meanwhile, bolstered an often-sloppy USF defense into the FBS top 15 in yards-per-play each of his two years in Tampa and brings head coaching experience from his time at Marshall. Barring hiring someone like VanGorder for the defense, it's hard to see how Sumlin could have done much better for the kind of program he wants to build -- in either slot -- than he did.

Tomorrow: the East. For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 4:53 pm
 

The Big Ten responds to Joe Paterno's death

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Legendary former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno died early Sunday morning at the age of 85, leaving behind a football legacy that is simply unmatched. Here are some reactions from coaches and other notable figures in the Big Ten, which Penn State joined 19 years ago.

Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien: "It is with great sadness that I am compelled to deliver this message of condolence and tribute to a great man, husband, father and someone who is more than just a coach, Joe Paterno. First, on behalf of Penn State Football, we offer our sincerest condolences to the Paterno family for their loss. We also offer our condolences to the Penn State community and, in particular, to those who wore the Penn State colors, our Nittany Lion football players and alumni. Today they lost a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure, and we extend our deepest sympathies. The Penn State Football program is one of college football's iconic programs because it was led by an icon in the coaching profession in Joe Paterno. There are no words to express my respect for him as a man and as a coach. To be following in his footsteps at Penn State is an honor. Our families, our football program, our university and all of college football have suffered a great loss, and we will be eternally grateful for Coach Paterno's immeasurable contributions." 

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Joe Paterno. His passing marks a tremendous loss for Penn State, college football and for countless fans, coaches and student-athletes. Our condolences go out to the Paterno family and to the entire Penn State community."

Nebraska athletic director and former head coach Tom Osborne: "I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno's passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best." 

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer: "I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Coach Joe Paterno. He was a man who I have deep respect for as a human being, as a husband and father, as a leader and as a football coach. I was very fortunate to have been able to develop a personal relationship with him, especially over the course of the last several years, and it is something that I will always cherish.

"My prayers and thoughts go out to his wife, Sue, and to their family, and also to the family he had at Penn State University. We have lost a remarkable person and someone who affected the lives of so many people in so many positive ways. His presence will be dearly missed. His legacy as a coach, as a winner and as a champion will carry on forever."

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke: "I am certainly saddened by the news today of Coach Paterno's passing. College football has lost one of its greatest, a coaching icon. Even though I was just an assistant when our teams faced one another, I feel honored to have shared the field with Joe. His players' love for him, it shows how he touched their lives and it tells who he was as a man. He will be missed. His mark on Penn State and college football will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joe's family and friends and the entire Penn State community."

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill: "I got home last night from recruiting and my oldest daughter said she had just heard. Fifteen minutes later, my youngest daughter at Murray State called. That's two girls from a coach's family reacting to it. That really sums up his impact. It hits home. He coached for 60 years with more than 100 players per year. Think about how many lives he touched, how many good things he has done.

"From my family to the Paterno family, our prayers go out to them. It's a sad day for football, but a good day for the man upstairs.

"I would tell people not to forget what that guy has done. To coach for 60 years in one place, that just won't ever happen again. I didn't get to coach against him. But I got to coach in the Big Ten, sit next to him at a meeting and have my picture taken with him. That's something I will never forget."

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald: "The legacy of Joe Paterno will be long lasting — not only as a football coach and mentor, but as a family man. For 62 years, Coach Paterno poured his heart and soul into a football program and university, helping countless young men reach their dreams and goals on the football field before moving on to successful careers and lives as adults. It's hard to fathom the impact that Coach Paterno has had on college football and at Penn State. His insight and wisdom will be missed. We at Northwestern send our condolences to Sue and the Paterno family." 

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio: "On behalf of my immediate family and the Michigan State football family, we express our deepest sympathy to Joe Paterno’s wife Sue, his five children and 17 grandchildren, as well as his extended family, the Penn State football family and the entire State College community.

"Joe dedicated his life to Penn State and college football. He had unparalleled success during his 46 seasons as the head coach at Penn State. Joe was a major player who helped revolutionize the game of college football. In his six-plus decades at Penn State, he influenced and impacted countless numbers of players and people at a championship level.

"Over the past five years, my wife and I have had the privilege of spending time with both Joe and his wife Sue. We appreciated and enjoyed the time spent at our various functions together and will forever remember him as a steward of our profession."

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema: "Coach Paterno obviously did so many wonderful things for a number of years, not only with the success of his teams on the field but the number of lives he shaped. I hope people remember his lifetime achievements. From day one, when I joined the head coaching ranks and was fortunate enough to cross paths with him at coaches meetings and various functions, he was always very engaging and complimentary of the way we did things at Wisconsin and how we played. I enjoyed competing with him at every level. Our Badger football family sends our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Penn State community and the Paterno family."

Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach Barry Alvarez: "Today is a sad day. Joe made a difference. He impacted a lot of people. He made a difference in a community, in a college and in college football. He was truly special and an icon. For someone to continue to do what he did through different generations and for such a long period of time and be effective was amazing. I’ve considered Joe a friend and a mentor. This is sad day for college football and the Penn State community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and the Paterno family."

For more reaction from State College, follow CBSSports.com's Penn State RapidReports.
Posted on: January 22, 2012 11:37 am
Edited on: January 22, 2012 12:25 pm
 

Bill O'Brien issues statement on Joe Paterno

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Following the death of Joe Paterno Sunday morning from lung cancer, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien issued a statement through the university in which he calls his legendary predecessor "a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure."

The full statement:

"It is with great sadness that I am compelled to deliver this message of condolence and tribute to a great man, husband, father and someone who is more than just a coach, Joe Paterno. First, on behalf of Penn State Football, we offer our sincerest condolences to the Paterno family for their loss. We also offer our condolences to the Penn State community and, in particular, to those who wore the Penn State colors, our Nittany Lion football players and alumni. Today they lost a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure, and we extend our deepest sympathies. The Penn State Football program is one of college football's iconic programs because it was led by an icon in the coaching profession in Joe Paterno. There are no words to express my respect for him as a man and as a coach. To be following in his footsteps at Penn State is an honor. Our families, our football program, our university and all of college football have suffered a great loss, and we will be eternally grateful for Coach Paterno's immeasurable contributions." 
For more reaction from State College, follow CBSSports.com's Penn State RapidReports.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:39 pm
 

Bill O'Brien's offensive coordinator is himself

Posted by Adam Jacobi

New Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien is in the process of filling out his coaching staff, and one of the most crucial roles on any staff is that of offensive coordinator. The offensive coordinator typically calls plays, coaches his quarterbacks, and puts to Xs and Os what the head coach's offensive philosophy dictates. Pretty important stuff, all in all.

So it came as no small surprise when the Penn State athletic department announced on Tuesday that the Nittany Lion offensive coordinator would be nobody at all, as O'Brien has decided to take on the play-calling responsibility itself. O'Brien is the current offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, so he's probably got as good an idea as to what the job entails as anybody else, but it's also worth reiterating that O'Brien is the head coach of the entire team -- not just the offense.

Of course, there are dozens of different ways a college coaching staff can be arranged without being derelict in any of its actual duties, so it's not as if the lack of an official offensive coordinator on O'Brien's staff specifically means that any major aspect of the team will be out-and-out neglected in his regime. That notion doesn't come close to passing the smell test.

Still, it's worth noting that this is certainly an unorthodox approach to staff-building, and it'll be interesting to see how O'Brien's delegation of tasks works out. He may be onto something here -- or he may just be on something. Common sense suggests the former. 

For more up-to-the-minute news on the Bill O'Brien era of Nittany Lion football, read the CBSSports.com Penn State RapidReports with Jim Rodenbush.

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 6:55 pm
 

Report: Ted Roof hired as Penn St. D coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ted Roof's tenure as defensive coordinator as UCF has proven to be a short one. 

According to reports, the recent Auburn assistant has joined Bill O'Brien's staff at Penn State and will serve as the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator, replacing longtime Penn State DC and interim head coach Tom Bradley. Roof was hired at UCF by George O'Leary just less than a month ago after a disappointing season at Auburn.

Despite Roof's struggles on the Plains, his move to Happy Valley has been rumored since nearly the moment O'Brien was hired. The new Nittany Lion head coach worked as Roof's offensive coordinator during the latter's ill-fated head coaching tenure at Duke from 2003 to 2007. Just last Saturday, O'Brien referred fondly to the pair's shared time at Durham and called Roof "one of my closest friends."

Though few at Auburn were disappointed to see Roof move onto UCF -- and despite his professional ties to O'Leary, the lateral move has been widely rumored to be a de facto dismissal from Gene Chizik -- Roof's career is not without a number of high points. He helmed several top-30 defenses for O'Leary during Georgia Tech's early-Aughts run as an ACC contender, sparked massive improvements for both the Blue Devils and Minnesota in one-year stints as defensive coordinator, and of course helped Chizik's Tigers to the national title a year ago with the SEC's No. 1 rush defense. Roof's specialty has been shutting down run-first pro-style schemes, a plus when considering the presence of Wisconsin in the Nittany Lions' division.

That said, Roof was still the coordinator of this season's 80th-ranked total defense and a unit that seemed particularly at sea against strong passing attacks. (Even in his 2000 Georgia Tech season, when Roof was nominated for the Broyles Award, the Jackets finished 114th out of 114 in pass defense.) If O'Brien has let his personal friendship cloud his judgment of Roof's capacity to lead the Nittany Lion offense, that may not be the best sign for Penn St. going forward.

Though Roof is the most high-profile of the new Nittany Lion assistants, O'Brien made two other hires Monday. Ball State offensive line coach John Strollo has been hired to lead the Nittany Lion offensive line; a 30-year coaching veteran, Strollo also worked with O'Brien and Roof at Duke. Buffalo Bills wide receivers coach Stan Hixon has also reportedly been hired, filling the receivers coaching position previously staffed by Mike McQueary.

For daily real-time updates on Penn State football, follow our Nittany Lion CBSSports.com RapidReports by Jim Rodenbush right here. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com