Larry Johnson has enjoyed great success as Penn State's defensive line coach, and he's past the point where he feels like he needs to become a head coach to justify his career.
"Being a head coach is not going to be the thing that's going to satisfy me, and I'm OK with that," Johnson said on a teleconference Thursday.
"I just want to be the best coach that I can be, and being that is what's driving me every day -- that I create a brand that's very special as a coach. And coaching the defensive line, that's what I do, and I'm OK with that."
Johnson, 60, mentioned he doesn't know how much longer he will coach, saying, "It's one year at a time for me." He also pointed out he is "having a great time" with this Penn State team.
"This is really a special year, and it is special for a lot of reasons," Johnson said. "You have to be in the locker room to see these players and how hard they work, how resilient they are, how they understand the word perseverance.
"It is really special to be around that ... to see what our guys have gone through as a football team."
Johnson has coached numerous first-team All-Americans, including most recently Devon Still and Jared Odrick, and has long been respected as a coach on the staff who has been able to get the most out of the players on his unit.
Johnson said the keys have been to show the players how much he cares about them personally and to be honest with them.
"I care about them, not only as football players, but young men," he said. "I am not afraid to show my love and my passion. I am not afraid to cry in front of my players because I am going to be myself.
"I think I am very honest with my players. I think that is the foundation with building a great relationship with young players -- being honest, being upright. They know that I am tough. I want them to be the best, and to be the best, I am going to push them to a level they have never been at before."
SUBHD: O'Brien once recruited Marve
O'Brien noted he and defensive coordinator Ted Roof recruited current Purdue QB Robert Marve when they were together at Duke (O'Brien's last year there was 2006). Roof was the Blue Devils' head coach at the time and O'Brien the offensive coordinator.
"That's how long he's been around," O'Brien said of the sixth-year college player.
Marve began his career at Miami, eventually wound up at Purdue and has battled numerous injuries. He even suffered some ACL damage in his left knee in the Boilermakers' game against Notre Dame on Sept. 8, but remarkably he has been able to return to the field quickly.
SUBHD: News and notes
Bill O'Brien wouldn't give an injury update on his radio show Thursday. "We do have some guys banged up. ... Basically you'll see who's playing when we take the field Saturday," he said. ... O'Brien said his bosses at PSU are working on a warm-weather or overseas game for the future and said 2014 or '15 could be a possibility.