Bill O'Brien -- Courtesy: Getty Images
Penn State is poised to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien to succeed legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
ESPN was first to report Thursday night that an announcement would come Saturday. O'Brien interviewed in State College on Thursday. The NFL Network reported that the interview went so well O'Brien was staying over Friday.
USA TODAY was first to report that O'Brien would interview Thursday. A person with knowledge of the search confirmed to USA TODAY late Thursday that O'Brien would be hired.
The school has been without a permanent coach since Paterno was fired Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Tom Bradley served as interim coach as the Nittany Lions dropped three of their final four games, including a 30-14 loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday.
O'Brien joined the Patriots staff in 2007 and worked his way to his current position this season. New England finished third in scoring at 32.1 points a game and enters the playoffs as the AFC's top seed.
O'Brien had college assistant coaching stints at Atlantic Coast Conference schools Georgia Tech, Duke and Maryland before moving to the NFL. He also was an assistant at Brown, his and Paterno's alma mater.
O'Brien was the third person from the NFL mentioned as a possible candidate for the opening. Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak, a former Penn State player, denied interest in the job last week.
San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mark Roman, who like O'Brien has no direct ties to Penn State, acknowledged this week that he interviewed with the school.
Roman's college coaching experience consists of two seasons at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh before moving to the NFL last January with Harbaugh.
There was some question whether Penn State should go outside its family to hire a new coach since much of the current staff knew Sandusky.
Bill O'Brien fast facts:
•Joined the Patriots in 2007, appointed to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2011.
•Coached in the Atlantic Coast Conference for 12 seasons, including tenures at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06).
•Played linebacker and defensive end at Brown University from 1990-92.
•Born Oct. 23 in Dorchester, Mass. Married to Colleen and has two sons, Jack and Mitchell.