Bill O’Brien, Matt Rhule testify McQueary wasn’t qualified for their coaching staffs

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- On the final day of witness testimony in Mike McQueary's whistleblower trial against Penn State, jurors heard from a pair of current and former major college football coaches who denied the former Penn State assistant from future coaching positions.

Current Temple University head football coach Matt Rhule, who was a friend and teammate of McQueary's while at State College High School and Penn State, testified during a July 28 video deposition that McQueary sent him numerous e-mails and text messages during December 2012 in an attempt to gain a coaching spot on Rhule's new staff.

Rhule replaced Steve Addazio as Temple's head coach in December 2012.

Rhule, who said McQueary was "always a friend" but never considered him a close friend, said McQueary began reaching out inquiring about open positions beginning December 3, 2012.

On December 14, McQueary emailed Rhule: "I need a break and I know you will not be sorry. I can coach QBs and WRs with anyone. I will be honest and loyal to you."

According to testimony, McQueary then sent Rhule a series of text messages:
"Don't want to bother you. Keep me in mind. The OC along with your coach for QBs and WRs, I have people ready to talk to higher-ups. Everything can be worked out."

"Meeting with Attorney General's office. They would love to talk to people at Temple. I'm ready to go Matt. Let me know what needs to be done."

Rhule responded, but doesn't remembering texting, "Hey Mike, believe me, I know you will be great….I'm still working through things. Should have better idea where I'll be at closer to Jan. 2."

"It will be a week when everything comes out," McQueary responded through text message. "They will give you a lot of credit. You can talk to all the authorities. They will share everything. Very confidential information with your administration. I want this, Matt. I will be a great OC along with others you're bringing in.

However, Rhule testified McQueary was never in the running for the position as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, or wide receivers coach. On December 31, Rhule broke the news to McQueary.

"You're not bugging me. I've known you for a long time and I know you need a break. Unfortunately, I have retained guys on offense. It will not work out right now."

Rhule testified that McQueary contacted Rhule once more, on January 30, 2016, inquiring about Temple's open offensive coordinator position. Rhule says he never responded, adding that in no point in time, was Mike McQueary ever in the running for a coaching position at Temple.

"He didn't have what I was looking for as an offensive coordinator. He never coached the quarterbacks. I didn't think he was the right fit at receiver (coach)," Rhule said.

Rhule added he heard rumblings from a variety of college and high school coaches he ran into on the recruiting trail that McQueary was not well-liked.

Rhule was also read previous testimony from McQueary, who said he spoke to the coach over the phone that the Temple administration was blocking McQueary's hire.

"The administration said, 'They won't let me hire you.' He mentioned to me because of the lawsuit… they won't let him consider me," McQueary said under oath. Rhule said he never remembered having that conversation.

After Rhule's video testimony, former Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien testified for about 30 minutes.

He told Penn State lawyer Nancy Conrad that before he was hired at Penn State, he already had a list of potential coaches in mind of who he wanted to hire. O'Brien said he had complete control on the coaches he would bring with him to Penn State.

Among those coaches was Stan Hixon, who O'Brien planned to hire as a wide receivers coach. O'Brien worked with Hixon at Georgia Tech, and was also drawn to Hixon's experience which included coaching stints with the Washington Redskins, as well as acting as an assistant coach under national championship winning college coach Nick Saban while at Louisiana State.

Because of Hixon, there was no open spot available for McQueary to remain in his role as wide receivers coach at Penn State, O'Brien testified. He added that McQueary did not have the same qualifications or experience as Hixon.

O'Brien was hired by Penn State the first week of January 2012. He testified Wednesday that Penn State administrators -- of whom he didn't remember -- gave him a list of current coaches under Joe Paterno to speak with. McQueary was not on the list.

"Basically, what I was doing was a courtesy," O'Brien said. "Some would ask, 'Can you just tell me I'm fired so I can collect my severance?' The guys knew I wasn't keeping them. I was bringing my own staff with me.

"It was a waste of time on my part."

A waste for all except Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden, who were on O'Brien's short list as potential coaching candidates. When O'Brien's first choices for defensive line and linebackers coach were unable to get out of their current contract, O'Brien pegged Johnson and Vanderlinden respectively.

Also testifying, a college football coaching agent and consultant said Wednesday former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary was unable to get a job after his time at Penn State because he failed to develop a coaching network.

Pete Roussel, creator of the website CoachingSearch.com and currently an agent for more than 20 college football coaches, testified as an expert witness for Penn State University in the whistleblower trial against McQueary.

McQueary claims the school singled him out after it became public knowledge he testified to a grand jury about seeing former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abuse a young boy in a locker room shower in 2001. He was unable to find any jobs in college football after Penn State terminated his contract in 2012, and has been unable to find any full-time work outside of football since. McQueary is seeking $4 million in damages from the school, estimating the amount of money he would earn over the course of his college football coaching career.

According to Roussel, McQueary's inability to develop contacts outside of the Penn State community, as well as then-head coach Joe Paterno's lack of turnover on his coaching staff, had more to do with McQueary's failure to get work as a coach than potentially harmful statements made by school officials.

"I think coach had a very limited network because he worked at Penn State his entire career. It was significantly detrimental to him that coaches did not branch off from (Joe Paterno's) staff," Roussel testified. "Sometimes it's good if other coaches get jobs because then you have other coaches at other places; a lifeline at other places."

McQueary, a wide receivers coach under Paterno, claims the decision made by Paterno's successor, Bill O'Brien, to not give him a courtesy interview after O'Brien was hired in January 2012 also led to the "irreparable harm" placed on his career.

"Absolutely not," Roussel said. "That's comical. Guys over the country know it works. It's a formality coaches bring in their own guys."

O'Brien, who is expected to testify Wednesday afternoon, likely via video deposition, ended up hiring Stan Hixon as his wide receivers coach when he took over the Nittany Lions football program. Hixon, Roussel testified, worked with O'Brien previously at Georgia Tech, and also had years of college and professional coaching experience.

"The importance of a network is absolutely critical," Roussel said.

In cross-examination, McQueary's attorney, Elliot Strokoff, attempted paint Roussel as a witness with little actual coaching experience.

Roussel, 36, worked on college football coaching staffs at four different locations after graduating from the University of Mississippi in 2002. However, in three of the four colleges, he worked as a graduate assistant. It wasn't until Roussel was hired at Samford University as its special teams coordinator that he landed his first job as one of a head coach's nine coaching assistants.

Roussel was paid an undetermined amount by Penn State for his testimony as an expert witness. He testified that he did not review the "hundreds of pages" documenting McQueary's job search, nor had he ever met or spoke to McQueary.

Closing arguments begin Thursday morning. The nine-woman, three-man jury is expected to begin deliberations Thursday afternoon.