It has been sort of a mixed-bag of a day for a pair of former Nittany Lions head coaches.
It’s looking more and more like Bill O’Brien is going to become the next offensive coordinator at Alabama, according to several reports, including this one from ESPN. The key sentence in that story is the first one of the second paragraph: “O’Brien was in the Alabama football complex Wednesday.” There’s a lot of smoke around this story, and if O’Brien is frequenting the complex, he’s doing so for a reason.
Also, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced three assistant coaches won’t return in the fall after their utter collapse down the stretch during the 2020 season. Included among them: Defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, Penn State’s longtime defensive assistant under Joe Paterno who was the team’s interim head coach after Paterno was fired late in 2011.
Both moves are pretty stunning, to me.
I’m still a bit surprised O’Brien would rush back to the college ranks, especially for a coordinators job he could have had in the NFL. There are some intriguing NFL coordinator jobs opening — namely in Pittsburgh, Miami and Los Angeles with the Chargers — and it seemed almost certain he could have garnered plenty of interest if he wanted to stay in the league. It’s a return to the college ranks for a guy who said the NFL was the height of his profession during his days as Penn State’s head coach in 2012 and 2013.
Certainly, nobody should criticize O’Brien for going this route. Just not what I thought he’d do.
Bradley did a good job with the Steelers, which ranked among the top 10 defenses in the league the last few years and had a pretty successful secondary that was No. 7 against the pass last season. His contract was up, though, and this is a franchise that really needs a breath of fresh air. He’ll be the only defensive assistant not returning, but he’s also the only one who had a former NFL defensive coordinator — Teryl Austin — on staff to help him out.
Not sure where Bradley goes from here, honestly. He’s 64,and he has kind of kicked around since it all fell apart at Penn State following the Sandusky scandal. It really wasn’t so long ago that he was widely considered Joe Paterno’s heir apparent, but those days seem far, far in the past.
Also, good news for a former assistant under James Franklin.
West Virginia Sports Now is reporting former Nittany Lions special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff is a finalist for a job in Conference USA.
— West Virginia Sports Now (@WVSportsNow) January 14, 2021
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT