January 02, 2012
Making the morning rounds.
• Not so fast, my anonymously sourced friends. Penn State spent the first day of 2012 pushing back against reports by ESPN and USA Today that it had zeroed in on New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as its next head coach, sending out athletic director David Joyner to tell the press that "there is no deal with anybody." (USA Today has since updated its original story, though it still maintains O'Brien has "emerged as a candidate.") O'Brien's agent tapped the brakes, too, telling the Boston Herald that "any imminent contract signing or agreement [with Penn State] is just off-base" — mainly because his client has his eyes on other pro jobs as the Pats roll into the playoffs.
"Everybody's dream, like his, is to be an NFL coach," said Joe Linta. "The most important thing for him is to win the Super Bowl. But if someone is going to be interested in him in the NFL, it's going to happen this week. He could be going somewhere else, he could be returning to the Patriots. But we'll wait and find out of someone is interested in him and seeks permission to talk with him."
Penn State has already struck out on two pie-in-the-sky targets, Boise State coach Chris Petersen and Tennessee Titans chief Mike Munchak, but there are still at least two other names in the mix: Followup interviews are reportedly scheduled for later this week with interim head coach Tom Bradley and Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, both of whom actually want the job. [USA Today, ESPN, Boston Herald, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harrisburg Patriot-News
• We hardly knew ye. Baylor also attempted to tap the brakes Sunday night on an ESPN report that supernova quarterback Robert Griffin III has decided to forego his senior season for the NFL Draft, but the source in this case is slightly more reliable: Robert Griffin II.
"I met with my son (Friday) and his schedule is pretty much he will attend the Sugar Bowl here in New Orleans, then next weekend he will meet with five agents and select the right agent to represent him and plan a good pre-draft process," Griffin II told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. "After that he will sit down with three of his coaches at Baylor on Wednesday or Thursday [Jan. 11 or 12] and make it official." [ESPN]
In other draft news… Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones is officially making the leap after picking up first-team All-Big East honors as a redshirt junior, despite sitting out five games with a leg injury. [Syracuse Post-Standard] … Wake Forest receiver Chris Givens is headed to the league after one of the most productive seasons in school history. [Deacons Illustrated] … And whatever else happens, Penn State's leading tackler promises he'll be back. [Patriot-News]
• Size doesn't matter. West Virginia will go into Wednesday night's Orange Bowl clash with Clemson without its leading rusher, true freshman Dustin Garrison, who will require major surgery to repair a non-contact knee injury he suffered in Friday's practice. The Mountaineers will turn instead to backups Andrew Buie and Shawne Alston, a short-yardage thumper who has about 50 pounds on the diminutive Garrison but will be asked to fill the same role. "We're not going to change our offense due to the fact that one guy weighs more than the other guy," said coach Dana Holgorsen. "It's about going forward with the football.'' [Charleston Gazette]
On the other side, Clemson's second-leading receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, rejoined the team over the weekend and expects to play Wednesday after suffering a concussion in a car accident that forced him to miss the team flight to Miami. "I think he's going to be fine," coach Dabo Swinney said last week. "He had a just a slight concussion, but he was lucky — very, very lucky — that he was not seriously injured. … Not many people would have walked away from that wreck." [OrangeandWhite.com]
• The Rap Sheet. Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness following a bar fight in his hometown, Tupelo, Miss., that resulted in multiple arrests. On his Twitter page, Bumphis wrote that he "did nothing wrong" and was "attacked with bottles" while posing for photos with fans. "I'm putting on for ya'll and still got haters n my own city!!!" Bumphis tweeted at 4:35 a.m., about two hours after he was released on $700 bond from Lee County Jail. "It's crazy how life works." [Clarion-Ledger, @ImSo_BalisMade1]
Quickly… Virginia Tech sends its backup kicker home from the Sugar Bowl. ... The Big Ten may be going back to Wrigley Field. … The Wall Street Journal gets behind the best sports photos of the year. … A not-so-enthusiastic review of Texas' season in MS Paint. …