STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. has been named the Nittany Lions’ interim head coach until a replacement is found, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.
The move is hoped to add at least some stability after news broke late Tuesday night about Bill O'Brien's decision to take the Houston Texans' head coaching job. Johnson Sr. is the last remaining assistant from Joe Paterno's tenure and is not expected to follow O'Brien.
The other assistants, however, were handpicked by O'Brien and it's not yet known who might be joining the Texans staff. PennLive.com already reported that wideouts coach Stan Hixon plans to join O'Brien, but the futures of the other assistants are still undetermined.
Other assistants that could potentially follow O'Brien include running backs coach Charles London, who spent time as a scout, offensive assistant and quality control coach with three NFL teams, and defensive coordinator John Butler.
Johnson Sr. will primarily be charged with keeping the recruiting class together, the source said, until a new head coach is found. Johnson Sr. could not be reached for comment.
The longtime assistant coach was hired by Paterno in 1996 and quickly earned a reputation as a hard-nosed recruiter. He developed seven first-team All-Americans and 14 first-team All-Big Ten selections.
He played a critical role in the commitment of several Penn State recruits in the current class, including ESPN 300 DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln).