Report: O'Brien to Penn State

West Virginia’s Tavon Austin scores on an 8-yard run in the first quarter, a mere warmup for the scoreboard.

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West Virginia’s Tavon Austin scores on an 8-yard run in the first quarter, a mere warmup for the scoreboard.

Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien interviewed with Penn State officials Thursday in Pennsylvania, and ESPN reported he agreed to be the successor to Joe Paterno.

The Nittany Lions plan to make the move official Saturday, ESPN reported.

New England coach Bill Belichick declined to elaborate on O'Brien's future. ESPN said O'Brien will stay with the Patriots, who have a playoff bye this week, for the rest of the season.

The Penn State search has continued for nearly eight weeks since Paterno was fired in the wake of sexual-abuse charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

O'Brien, 42, is not a household name to college football fans. He has spent extensive time as a college assistant. He was at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke for 12 seasons before joining the Patriots in 2007.

O'Brien's biggest challenge will be that he has never served as a head coach. The Penn State job will be about much more than coaching. He will have to re-engage the fan base and rebuild trust.

Other than orchestrating the offense and serving as Tom Brady's quarterbacks coach, O'Brien may be best known for a sideline screaming match with Brady last month. That gave a window into the fire of the Massachusetts native, who is known to have a strong presence in the Patriots' locker room and meeting rooms.

USF's Sanchez done

TAMPA — Linebacker Armando Sanchez, who was USF's top special teams tackler in 2009 and 2010 and one of the Bulls' most decorated players academically, has decided not to play his final season, having graduated last summer with a communications degree.

"I'm indebted to him for what he did for our program, the attitude he had, the way that he worked," said coach Skip Holtz, who said Sanchez has a full-time job lined up and will be honored as a senior at the postseason banquet Jan. 13.

Sanchez, a Northeast High graduate, had 13 tackles in '09 and 20 in 2010, when he returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in USF's win against Florida Atlantic. He had nine tackles this season and missed the final five games with an ankle injury.

Jenkins stays at FSU

Defensive end/linebacker Brandon Jenkins said he will return to FSU for his senior season. Thought by some to be a late first-round NFL draft possibility, he hopes to improve his stock. He had 42 tackles (12 for a loss) and eight sacks this season.

More draft decisions: Alshon Jeffery, who holds South Carolina's career record with 3,042 yards receiving, will skip his senior season for the NFL. He isn't considered fast, but at 6 feet 4, 229 pounds and with sure hands, Jeffery could be a first-round pick. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who started all 40 games at South Carolina, also is giving up his final season. … Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones will return for his senior season, saying "there is still a lot more to do." Sooners defensive end Ronnell Lewis will skip his senior season. … Wisconsin running back Montee Ball will return for his senior season, saying he wants to improve his NFL stock after learning he would likely be a third-round pick. … Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, a three-year starter and first-team All-American this season, will skip his senior season. He said he wants to help his father, Bobby Smith, get the care he needs as he recovers from a stroke suffered in 2010. … Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill, who set a school record and led the nation with an average of 29.3 yards per catch this season, will skip his senior year.

BCS changes? SEC commissioner Mike Slive expects "meaningful discussions about possible changes to the BCS" in the coming months, including making it a four-team playoff.

ARkansas state: Pittsburgh interim coach Keith Patterson was named defensive coordinator. He will leave after Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl.

Michigan: Coach Brady Hoke said receiver Darryl Stonum is still on the team despite violating probation in a drunken-driving case.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

>>FAST FACTS

Records fall fast in Orange Bowl rout

Nine overall bowl records fall in West Virginia's 70-33 win over Clemson in Wednesday night's Orange Bowl:

Touchdowns (team): 10, WVU (tied)

Combined points, half: 69, first half

Points (team): 70, WVU

Points, quarter (team): 35, WVU, first quarter

Points, half (team): 49, WVU, first half

Touchdown passes: 6, Geno Smith, WVU (tied)

Touchdowns responsible: 7, Geno Smith (tied)

Points responsible: 42, Geno Smith (tied)

Touchdown catches: 4, Tavon Austin, WVU (tied)

Note: Smith's 401 yards passing broke the Orange Bowl record of Tom Brady (369 yards, Michigan, Jan. 1, 2000).

Source: ESPN

Report: O'Brien to Penn State 01/05/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 12:09am]

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