Four-down territory: O'Brien to Penn State not likely

Let's take a look at what's happening across the nation on this Monday morning...

• I talked with a friend of Bill O'Brien on Sunday night, and he didn't think that the New England Patriots offensive coordinator would end up in State College as Penn State's next head coach. He maintains that O'Brien is set on climbing up the NFL coaching ladder. And keep in mind that O'Brien left his last college gig, offensive coordinator at Duke, to assume a non-position assistant coaching spot in New England. Where Penn State turns now is anyone's guess as its search for a permanent replacement for Joe Paterno continues.

Derek DooleyICONDerek Dooley lost defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to Washington.

• The bad news continues for Tennessee coming off of a bowl-less season, as defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon are leaving Knoxville to join Steve Sarkisian's staff at Washington, according to an ESPN.com report. The Huskies fired defensive coordinator Nick Holt, along with linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills, following three underwhelming seasons and an embarassing loss to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. The former Vols assistants have West Coast ties, as Wilcox and Sirmon were teammates at Oregon, and Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at Boise State for four seasons. The Vols finished 28th nationally in total defense under the 35-year-old coordinator despite having one of the youngest defenses in the country. It's the fourth coaching change for the Vols this offseason, as assistant head coach/receivers coach Charlie Baggett wasn't retained and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Eric Russell left for Mike Leach's staff at Washington State.

• West Virginia will be without leading rusher Dustin Garrison for its Orange Bowl matchup with Clemson, but Shawne Alston and true freshman Andrew Buie should give the Mountaineers solid production when Dana Holgorsen does run the football against the Tigers. Alston was the second-leading rusher on the team and led the squad with 10 touchdown runs. He is more of a power back with the ability to get the extra yard and break tackles.

• Sure, it's not New Year's Day, but today is a special day in college football. We won't ever have January 1 being the significant holy day of the college season like it was years ago, but at least the sport has the spotlight today. Enjoy it. And, maybe it's because I grew up in the Midwest in Big Ten country, but is there anything better than the Rose Bowl and all of its pomp and circumstance? Today, Oregon and Wisconsin look to snag the win in Pasadena that eluded each team the last two postseasons.

Four-down territory runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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