Bill O’Brien helped turn around the ailing Penn State football program, leading the team to two winning seasons following groundbreaking sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal.
But the once Patriots assistant was known to have aspirations to return to the NFL. So it is not surprising that the coach jumped at the chance to take over as the next head coach of the Texans, as reported Tuesday. Here are some of the leading and most interesting candidates to take over the Nittany Lions.
Al Golden, Miami
The current Miami Hurricanes head coach spent time in Pennsylvania not long ago, leading the downtrodden Temple Owls from winless to a bowl berth in four seasons in North Philly. Prior to his coaching gig, Golden was a three-year starter as tight end and was a candidate to take over for Joe Paterno the first time the job opened up two years ago.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Another leading candidate is Franklin, who is a Pennsylvania native and has worked as a coach in Happy Valley before. He has led Vanderbilt to three straight bowls and 23 wins during three years as their head coach. However the Texas opening is also a draw, as he has worked at UT as well.
Greg Schiano, Buccaneers
Schiano was fired on “Black Monday” this week, but his name has come up as a possible O’Brien replacement. He was a leading candidate to take the job when he was coaching Rutgers a few years ago. While at the Scarlet Knights, the New Jersey turned around the program, even boasting an 11-2 mark in 2006.
Mike Munchak, Titans
Though he is still under employment with the Titans, the former Penn State 3-year starter (1979-81) is a Pennsylvania native and potentially a perfect match. He has a long coaching history with the Titans as an assistant before his ascension to the head coaching spot three seasons ago. In those three seasons he is 22-26.