Penn State football: Larry Johnson looks to interview for Nittany Lions head coaching job

tjohnson@centredaily.comJanuary 3, 2014 

— When asked what sets him apart from other candidates who will interview for Penn State’s head football coaching job, Larry Johnson kindly sidestepped.

There will be time for that later. Johnson said he plans to do so in front of Penn State’s six-person search committee in the near future.

“I am going to apply for the job here at Penn State,” Johnson said Friday.

Overall, it will be the third Penn State-related interview for Johnson. He interviewed in 2011 before Bill O’Brien was hired and and 18 years ago for a position on Joe Paterno’s staff. Johnson got the first job and has been at Penn State ever since.

Johnson’s responsibilities grew earlier this week when he was named interim head coach following O’Brien’s departure for the Houston Texans. It’s a title Johnson could shed pending the outcome of his interview. Miami’s Al Golden and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin have been established as candidates.

“I think I know the lay of the land very well,” Johnson said. “But right now the focus is not about me. It’s really about our players and our future players. That’s my concentration right now.

“I’m not worried about what’s going to happen to Larry Johnson. I’m worried about keeping this program moving forward.”

Johnson didn’t say when he would interview.

Meanwhile, Johnson said the last few days have been busy. He’s reached out to half of the team’s players scattered across the country on winter break on a conference call. Johnson had another call planned for Friday night.

Johnson said he has spoken to Penn State’s current recruits and is “actively recruiting future players,” too. Of the players he’s talked to, Johnson said, all of them are committed to returning.

He’s not been alone. Despite reports that receivers coach Stan Hixon will take a job on O’Brien’s staff in Houston, Johnson said none of the current Penn State assistants have turned in their resignations.

“Right now every guy is here that I know about,” Johnson said. “Coach O’Brien’s not named who he’s going to take from the staff. We’re back in the office, a full staff on Monday, and we expect everybody to be here ready to go.”

There were Twitter reports Friday that Golden had already been offered the Penn State job. But a university source said there had been no offers, to Golden or anyone else.

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