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Coaching Changes Daily: O'Brien, Franklin and others have NFL buzz

Is Bill O'Brien leaving Penn State to the NFL's Texans? (USATSI)
Is Bill O'Brien leaving Penn State to the NFL's Texans? (USATSI)

1. Despite the relatively slow coaching carousel with 12 FBS openings in the first month, expect the NFL to mushroom that bottom line very soon.

Six NFL jobs are open as of this morning, including half the NFC North. For a head count: CLE, MIN, DET, TB, HOU and WASH.

The silence is telling at Penn State, where Bill O'Brien has not addressed the reports that he's in talks for the Houston Texans job. A source directly involved in the candidacy of another Texans interviewee said that coach has moved on from Houston because the O'Brien developments are “legit” and he's likely to happen.

There's buzz in several NFL circles that Greg Schiano's landing strip from the Bucs firing will be State College. Schiano was a Nittany Lions grad assistant and defensive backs coach in the early 90s.

The hiring of Schiano – whose failure at Tampa shouldn't offset his rebuild effort at a once-putrid Rutgers program -- would slow the college market because there wouldn't be a new job to replace.

Vandy's James Franklin needs at look at PSU, where he'd be better suited than at Texas. I'm hearing Texas has Franklin on a preliminary list and might want to talk to him soon.

As for the other NFL jobs open, expect teams to evaluate college coaches more than ever before. Save Lovie Smith, who makes sense in Tampa, the realistic NFL retread pool doesn't look overly promising, and teams will look to offensive minds to develop young players.

Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin got some inquiries last year. Expect the same this year, though he's got a cushy $5-million-per-year extension at A&M.

2. It should be no surprise NFL teams look at Pac-12 head coaches -- the Pac-12 has been good to the NFL.

Stanford's David Shaw is coveted but isn't in the NFL right now because he wants to be at Stanford. CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora says UCLA's Jim Mora is on the Vikings' radar.

If either ended up in the NFL, they'd follow an impressive line of recent Pac-12 success in the pros. San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh, Seattle's Pete Carroll and Philadelphia's Chip Kelly are a combined 84-42 in the league. That's a .666 winning percentage, and though Carroll owns 24 of those losses, he's 24-8 in his last two years.

Not sure if the Pac-12 breeds elite coaching minds or things just shook out this way, but no doubt NFL teams to continue combing West Coast talent.

3. O'Brien/Houston negotiations could be complicated because of his buyout and tax implications.

Reports surfaced a few weeks back that O'Brien reduced his buyout from $19.33 to $6.48 million. Texans owner Bob McNair will probably pay that if he wants O'Brien badly enough.

But how the buyout is structured will be key, because after speaking with two reps with knowledge of the intricacies of college football coaching contracts, O'Brien might owe taxes on that buyout – talking millions of dollars.

Maybe Houston could front that amount, too. But hashing out such details take time.

4. Top assistant coaching positions left on the board – 1) Oregon defensive coordinator, 2) UNC offensive coordinator, 3) Notre Dame offensive coordinator

The new Ducks coordinator walks into a stable situation with plenty of athletes to work with. Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon has been speculated as a candidate, and former Washington DC Justin Wilcox, with long-standing UO ties, might be tempted to eschew USC for Eugene.

The UNC job seems more attractive than Notre Dame because Brian Kelly calls the plays in South Bend. Larry Fedora probably gives his OC more freedom in Chapel Hill.

5. UConn is filling out its offensive staff under first-year coach Bob Diaco, adding Central Michigan's Mike Cummings as offensive coordinator and two Notre Dame staffers as offensive assistants.

Notre Dame's director of player development Ernest Jones and defensive graduate assistant Josh Reardon will join Diaco, the former Irish defensive coordinator who got the UConn job in early December.

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