DALLAS -- Another day brought another rumor concerning the Penn State coaching search.
And if the latest one is true -- anointing New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, which both ESPN and USA Today report may be the leading candidate -- then Tom Bradley is facing his final hours after 33 years on the Nittany Lions' staff.
Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner denied the report later Sunday afternoon (please see related story.)
Beleaguered but determined to work "until the last minute that they tell me my services are no longer needed," Bradley said Sunday he plans to coach today's TicketCity game, return to State College on one of two team flights from here Tuesday and then hit the recruiting road Wednesday.
Contradicting an earlier newspaper report, Bradley said he does not have a second interview scheduled and has not "heard anything" about the search since he interviewed Dec. 16.
"I don't know where that started," he said.
Typically, he tried to keep his sense of humor, saying, "What's the latest rumor? You guys haven't hit the jackpot yet."
For Bradley, that "jackpot" only seems possible if other candidates, apparently now including O'Brien, don't impress or back out.
It's difficult to argue the Patriots' success, but O'Brien will not be bringing Tom Brady. Ditto Green Bay Packers' quarterback coach Tom Clements, who as of Saturday night was supposedly getting another interview. Aaron Rodgers is out of college eligibility.
Unless the committee has an ace in the hole -- a proven current college head coach -- the most intriguing potential candidate to be bandied so far may be Tennessee Titans' coach Mike Munchak.
The former PSU All-American could restore -- finally -- the Lions' offensive line play and, as importantly, could deliver a staff of ex-PSU players who could help sell and drive the program through its darkest times.
One of the downsides of Joe Paterno's lengthy tenure was it presented limited opportunities for assistant coaches with Lion roots to branch out and even land back at PSU.
The time may not be right, though, for Munchak, who is completing his first season as Tennessee's head coach. He said Wednesday that he hopes his alma mater finds the right coach but added he had "no interest" in that choice being him.
By Saturday night, however, ESPN's Joe Schad was reporting that Munchak's first reaction may have been preliminary, and he was having "second thoughts."
Meanwhile, Bradley, his assistants and the entire Penn State team continue to twist in the wind while athletic director Dave Joyner plays a two-month game of eeeneemeeneemyneemoh.
"I'm awful proud of our staff," Bradley said. "They've worked as hard as they've ever worked and under the circumstances, that's very admirable."
If Joyner ends up getting someone who most people have not heard of -- like Bill O'Brien -- maybe he'd be better off giving the job to Bradley for another year.
Bradley and his fellow assistants and the current players -- other than the Matt McGloin-Curtis Drake fight -- have carried the torch with class in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the fallout that included Paterno's firing.
With distractions galore, how they hold up to Houston's aerial attack which could end today's game in the first half is anybody's guess.
On the opposite sideline will be Tony Levine, making his coaching debut after being appointed the Cougars' boss after Kevin Sumlin bolted for Texas A&M.
The polar opposite of Bradley, who arrived at PSU in 1974 and never left, Levine is on his sixth coaching stop since starting out at Texas State in 1997.
"Penn State has been an inspiration in our business," Levine told two-three reporters while Bradley was swarmed by 20 at a time. "You look at somebody's bio [in the profession], and it's here two, three, four years, and then they go somewhere else. Everybody I've met at Penn State has been there 33, 35 years, and you don't see that anymore in what we do."
You probably won't see it at Penn State much longer as it appears the staff will change drastically soon -- perhaps since Bill O'Brien has emerged as the latest rumored frontrunner.
After all, in what is more than ironic, O'Brien did play his college football at Brown.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @neilrudel.