Following his second season at the helm of the Nittany Lions, Bill O'Brien is already seeing more changes to his staff. Longtime PSU linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and second-year quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher will not be back in 2014, according to FOS sources who wished not to be named.
The Lions wrapped up the 2013 season with a win at Wisconsin Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, Vanderlinden and Fisher were no longer on the staff, according to our sources.
At the time of this writing, the specifics of the two coaches leaving the staff were not clear.
Vanderlinden did not return a call requesting comment. Fisher could not be reached.
When reached by phone, O'Brien declined specific comment on the staff changes.
There was no word on replacements, either. But with Penn State entering a key recruiting period -- the Nittany Lions' season is complete and NCAA sanctions are preventing them from going to a bowl, so recruiting is the focus of the program for the next two months -- making hires sooner rather than later would seem to be a priority.
Vanderlinden was one of only two holdovers from Joe Paterno's staff to join O'Brien's new regime. The former Maryland head coach (1997-2000) joined the Penn State staff as linebackers coach in 2001 and is credited with developing future NFL players such as Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, Sean Lee, NaVorro Bowman and Michael Mauti, to name a few.
Fisher was a longtime assistant at Vanderbilt before serving one season (2011) as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Miami of Ohio. He was part of O'Brien's new PSU staff in 2012. Former Lion and current Oakland Raider QB Matt McGloin credited O'Brien and Fisher with preparing him for the next level.
Following the 2012 season, first-year defensive coordinator Ted Roof left Penn State to take the same position at Georgia Tech, which is his alma mater. Defensive backs coach John Butler was promoted to replace him, and Anthony Midget was hired to coach safeties.
So three members of O'Brien's initial Penn State staff are no longer with the program.
By comparison, in Paterno's final eight years as head coach at Penn State, there was only one change on the staff. Safeties coach Brian Norwood left to become defensive coordinator at Baylor in 2006 and was replaced by PSU graduate assistant Kermit Buggs.
While some lauded the stability of the former staff, others wondered if the lack of change stifled the flow of fresh ideas into the program.
FOS writer Greg Pickel contributed to this report.