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Report: O’Brien, Rhule Among 5 on Auburn’s Coaching Wish List

Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien and former Penn State player Matt Rhule are in consideration to be the next head football coach at Auburn, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported on Saturday’s episode of College GameDay.


O’Brien and Ruhle, along with Ole Miss’s Lane Kiffin, Liberty’s Hugh Freeze and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, are five names Auburn is focusing on, Thamel said. 

“Expect the pitch to these coaches to be a simple one,” Thamel said. ‘Come in, build up Auburn, and as Nick Saban eventually retires, you’ll have the program in place to potentially rise up in the SEC West and fill that power void that Alabama has occupied for so long.”

O’Brien was Penn State’s coach from 2012-13, keeping the program afloat after the Jerry Sandusky scandal fallout. “O’Brien’s Lions” went 15-9 over two seasons before the coach moved on to the NFL. He then coached the Houston Texans from 2014-20, winning the AFC South four times before getting fired after an 0-4 start in 2020. He became Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2021. O’Brien helped QB Bryce Young to a Heisman Trophy and the Tide to an SEC title and National Championship Game appearance in his first season on the job. 

Rhule played at Penn State in the 1990s and was fired by the Carolina Panthers last month after going 11-27 over less than three seasons. Before that, Rhule went 47-43 at Temple and Baylor, turning around both programs. Temple went from 2-10 in Rhule’s first season to 10-2 in his fourth and final. Baylor went from 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019 before Rhule left for the NFL. 

Auburn is picking up the pieces after the disastrous Bryan Harsin era ended this past Monday. Harsin went 9-12 over 21 games at Auburn. School legend Cadillac Williams is the interim coach.

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