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Penn State Coaching Search: Ron Vanderlinden, Larry Johnson Sr. Interviews Focused On Retaining Pair, According To Report

While ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has agreed to replace Joe Paterno as the Nittany Lions' head coach,'s Mike Poorman reports that a pair of current assistants might be staying in Happy Valley.

Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has served as the team’s interim head coach since Joe Paterno was fired on Nov. 5 in the wake of the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Bradley, plus Nittany Lions assistants Jay Paterno, Larry Johnson, Sr., and Ron Vanderlinden, all interviewed for the position.

The focus of the interviews with Vanderlinden and Johnson was about being retained as assistant coaches, two sources said.

If Penn State is walking down the aisle with O'Brien and and wants to keep Johnson and Vanderlinden on the staff, a tweet by ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday night saying O'Brien will stay with the Patriots through the end of their playoff run would see to be a little more logical. The pair is already familiar with most if not all of Penn State's recruiting targets for the Class of 2012, and that familiarity would certainly help O'Brien greatly in closing out the group for Feb. 1's National Signing Day without him having to be working full-time in Happy Valley.

Without confirmation of any kind from the school about O'Brien let alone the assistants, however, those remain pretty big "ifs."

For the latest on the Penn State coaching search, stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.