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Friday, January 3, 2014
PSU's Johnson seeks permanent post

By Adam Rittenberg

Penn State interim head coach Larry Johnson wants to remove the "interim" from his title. The school's longtime defensive line coach confirmed Friday that he'll apply for the permanent job following Bill O'Brien's departure to the Houston Texans.

"Why not Larry Johnson? I've been here 18 years," he said on a conference call with reporters. "I know the lay of the land very well."

Johnson also applied for the job in 2011, when it went to O'Brien. He has support from many current and former players such a sophomore defensive end Deion Barnes, who tweeted Thursday, "He's a great leader and will be a great head coach." Johnson said he was "very humbled" by the support.

Larry Johnson Sr.
Larry Johnson is interested in replacing Bill O'Brien as the permanent Penn State head coach.
Athletic director Dave Joyner said Thursday that the search committee would interview Johnson if he had interest in the permanent job. Johnson, who joined Penn State's staff for the 1996 season and has been the defensive line coach since 2000, isn't going to put on a glitzy sales pitch.

"I'll let my work stand for itself," he said. "I'm not going to change who I am to get this job."

Whether or not he's the choice, Johnson will continue to oversee the staff and Penn State's recruiting efforts until a permanent head coach is named.

Some notes from Johnson: ESPN's Brett McMurphy reports that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Miami coach Al Golden and Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak are the top candidates for the Penn State job. Both Golden and Munchak played at Penn State, and Franklin is a native of Langhorne, Pa., who played at East Stroudsburg.

All three are sitting head coaches. Johnson's last head-coaching experience came at the high school level in the Washington D.C. area.

Is Johnson a realistic candidate? The committee should listen to what he has to say, but he likely wouldn't be their first choice.