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PSU officials eye Patriots' offensive coordinator

DALLAS — Penn State officials hope to interview New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien for its head football coach vacancy, but no deal is in place, sources told the Tribune-Review today.

O'Brien would become at least the third candidate to interview as early as this week, joining interim coach Tom Bradley and Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. Bradley and Clements are scheduled for follow-up interviews with acting athletic director David Joyner, sources said.

The Patriots are on a bye next weekend during the first round of the NFL playoffs.

If Penn State does not hire Bradley, Joyner is leaning toward an NFL assistant because there is concern the job is not attractive enough to current college head coaches or top assistants, sources said.

Joyner, who is part of a six-person search committee, declined comment. He has not commented regarding any names to surface as candidates throughout this process.

ESPN reported this morning that O'Brien was a favorite among Penn State officials, and a handful of outlets followed with reports saying a deal between the university and O'Brien, 42, was in place.

Bradley, who will coach Penn State against Houston in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday at the Cotton Bowl, said today he has not been told by university officials this would be his last game.

"They haven't talked to us about anything regarding the coaching search," Bradley said.

Bradley hinted he was unlikely to remain at Penn State as defensive coordinator, in which he has served since 2000, if he is not named head coach.

"I'm not sure about that. That's kind of a question I can't answer right now," Bradley said. "I'm sure there will be other opportunities."

Bradley and Clements have been vetted with personal background checks, as Penn State does not want any more negative publicity with its football program, given the trial ex-defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky faces on child sexual abuse charges.

O'Brien is in the final year of his contract with the Patriots, and there is precedent for New England offensive coordinators under head coach Bill Belichick to become head coaches elsewhere.

Charlie Weis left the Patriots' staff to take over the football program at Notre Dame, and Josh McDaniels vacated the offensive coordinator post to take over the Denver Broncos. Weis was fired by Notre Dame and is now head coach at Kansas. McDaniel is currently the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams.

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