Penn State names Larry Johnson interim coach

Jan. 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been named interim coach at Penn State while Nittany Lions officials search for a full-time coach.

Penn State Coach Bill O'Brien is leaving the school after two seasons to become the head coach of the NFL's Houston Texans. O'Brien has led the football program since Penn State's scandal involving child abuse charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The NCAA handed the Nittany Lions a series of severe sanctions after allegations that school officials covered up Sandusky's crimes.

Despite the limitations, O'Brien's Penn State teams went 15-9, including a 7-5 mark in 2013.

"Penn State would like to extend its best wishes to Bill O'Brien," Penn State President Rodney Erickson and Nittany Lions Athletic Director Dave Joyner said in a statement Thursday.

"Coach O'Brien was a tremendous leader during a challenging time at our university, guiding our student athletes to success both on the field and in the classroom. We will always be grateful to him for his time here at Penn State."

Johnson has been with the Penn State football program for 19 seasons. He's coached the defensive line for the last 15 years. Penn State said Johnson would work with players on the Penn State roster and keep contact with potential recruits during the search for a new head coach.

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