Patriots’ O’Brien to Follow Paterno at Penn State, ESPN Reports

New England Patriots’ Bill O’Brien
New England Patriots' Bill O'Brien. Photographer: Elsa/Getty Images

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to succeed Joe Paterno as football coach at Penn State University, ESPN reported, citing unidentified sources.

O’Brien, 42, interviewed for the job yesterday, his agent Joe Linta told the Associated Press. The Nittany Lions will announce the appointment tomorrow, ESPN said.

Paterno, 85, was fired Nov. 9 after 46 years as coach because of the way he handled allegations of child molestation by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Jeff Nelson, a spokesman for Penn State athletics, declined to comment in an e-mail. Linta didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

“I believe the search is continuing and progressing very well, as we hoped it would,” acting Athletic Director David Joyner said during a taped segment played at halftime of the radio broadcast of last night’s basketball game between Purdue and Penn State.

O’Brien was a linebacker and defensive end at Brown from 1990-92. He began his coaching career with the Bears and then spent eight seasons at Georgia Tech, two years at Maryland and two years at Duke. Paterno also played at Brown.

O’Brien joined the Patriots as a coaching assistant in 2007, served as wide receivers coach in 2008 and quarterbacks coach in 2009-10 before taking over as offensive coordinator this season.

Leading Offense

The Patriots’ offense ranked second in the National Football League this season by averaging 428 yards per contest and was third in scoring with 32.1 points per game.

Sandusky, 67, whose defenses helped the school become known as “Linebacker U,” was charged with 40 criminal counts tied to alleged sexual molestation of eight boys from 1994 to 2009. Sandusky has denied the charges against him.

Paterno and university President Graham B. Spanier, 63, who weren’t charged, were fired amid criticism over the school’s handling of the case. Spanier, who was president of the university for 16 years after being chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a sociologist and a marriage and family therapist.

Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, a senior vice president who oversaw university police, are charged with perjury and failing to report that assistant coach Mike McQueary told them he saw Sandusky molesting a boy. Curley and Schultz, who remain free on bail, have denied the charges.

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