Penn State is planning to meet with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Joe Paterno, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting.
"Bill is focusing on another Super Bowl run," said O'Brien's agent, Joe Linta. "However, if an NFL team or Penn State seeks permission from (Patriots coach) Bill Belichick, then Bill will speak to them."
O'Brien, 42, played at Brown University like Paterno did. He was an assistant in the ACC for 12 years, including stops at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke. He served as receivers coach in 2008 and quarterbacks coach from 2009-10 with the Patriots before being elevated this past season to offensive coordinator. Unlike some other prominent candidates, he has no ties to Penn State, and he has no head coaching experience.
Indications are that Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements remains in the mix for the Penn State job as well. San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman has also reportedly interviewed. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano does not appear to be a candidate at this time and has not interviewed.
It looks like the Nittany Lions want to hire someone from the NFL, for reasons I don't quite understand. The track record for New England assistants taking over head coaching jobs has been spotty, with Charlie Weis being the most glaring example in college. O'Brien could still go for a head coaching job in the NFL as well and has been mentioned for the opening in Jacksonville.
Stay tuned, as we enter our third month since Paterno was fired. Someday, Penn State will actually hire a successor.