The Iron Lion is flyin'
Craig Fitzgerald, the man who revamped Penn State's strength and conditioning program, is leaving the program to take a position on Bill O'Brien's new staff with the Houston Texans. This according to a source close to Fitzgerald.
According to the source, Fitzgerald was in something of a holding pattern after it was announced on New Year's Eve that O'Brien was set to leave the Nittany Lions for Houston. He was not sure if O'Brien would offer him a position. And Penn State could not commit to him, because its new coach might want to hire his own strength coach.
It boiled down to who would offer first, the source said, and O'Brien's offer came Monday morning. Penn State's coaching search is ongoing.
Fitzgerald is the third member of O'Brien's Penn State staff to have been confirmed as joining him in Houston. Receivers coach Stan Hixon has said he is headed to the Texans. And it has been widely reported that Jim Bernhardt, a special assistant to O'Brien at Penn State (and his position coach at Brown) would join Houston in a similar position.
In the meantime, PSU running backs coach Charles London has pulled down his Penn State Facebook page. There has been speculation that he will join the Texans' staff, as well.
Fitzgerald was one of O'Brien's first hires when the latter was named head coach at Penn State in January of 2012. Coming from South Carolina, Fitzgerald oversaw a multi-million dollar renovation of the Nittany Lions' 13,000-square foot weight room, and transitioned the program's approach from a HIT system that relied heavily on machines to an Olympic-style system that depended more on free weights.
He was popular among players and fans for his outgoing nature, and even developed a trademark T-shirt -- Iron Lion -- versions of which were sold to raise money for Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes.