Penn State Coaching Search: 4 Candidates If PSU Misses out on Bill O'Brien

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Tom Bradley addresses the media after the game against Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 12, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  Nebraska won 17-14. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Penn State Nittany Lions are still looking for a head coach, as Joe Paterno was let go a couple of months ago.

After being turned down by several other coaching candidates, they may have found their guy in current new England Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien. He's scheduled for an interview with the university today.

But what if the O'Brien hire doesn't happen? Where does Penn State turn then?

Here are a few possibilities.

Charlie Strong

Penn State may have turned their attention to Louisville coach Charlie Strong. He may not have a great offensive background, but he is a fantastic defensive coach and a great recruiter. He ran the defense under Urban Meyer at Florida.

Many believed that he should have been a candidate to replace Meyer when he left Florida. Strong's 14-12 record isn't impressive, but with his recruiting abilities and better athletes at Penn State, he may be able to do a better job.

Dan Mullen

Mullen is still a respected head coach despite his sub-par 21-17 overall record at Mississippi State. He is from the Pennsylvania area and went to school there as well. He's built an impressive resume over time with work at Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

He's an excellent recruiter and would likely have more success in a watered-down Big Ten, instead of the loaded SEC.

Tim Murphy

It's being reported that Harvard coach Tim Murphy is at the top of the Nittany Lions list. Murphy may not have the big name that these other coaches do, but he is a winner and a man of high character. He's 119-59 at Harvard and has won the Ivy Championship six times.

Any player who has played all four seasons under Murphy has won at least one championship. He has the most wins of all time at the university.

People may have mixed feelings about hiring a coach from an Ivy league school, but let's not forget that Joe Paterno came from Brown.

Tom Bradley

When you're going through a rough time, probably the best thing you can hope for is some stability. That's where Tom Bradley comes in, as he has been the defensive coordinator for Penn State the last 12 seasons. He was also named the interim coach when Paterno was fired.

He would be able to keep the recruiting intact for the most part, as he has recruiting ties in the area. Bradley's done a great job as a defensive coordinator and was able to handle the pressure well this season, keeping the team focused on the game.

If it's true that Penn State wants to remove the entire staff that Paterno had, then Bradley stands no chance. But if the Nittany Lions are just looking for the best possible fit, he deserves some consideration.

Randy Chambers is a B/R Featured Columnist that covers College Football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or