Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, one of the most successful position player coaches in the country, and quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher have resigned.
News of Vanderlinden and Fisher leaving the staff first broke Monday afternoon on social media, but Penn State officials remained silent about it until releasing a statement Tuesday night. The school says the two resigned "to pursue other opportunities.
"I appreciate all of Ron and Charlie's hard work and thank them for their dedication and service to Penn State," coach Bill said O'Brien in the statement. "I wish them well in all their future endeavors."
The Vanderlinden news caught many people by surprise given his immense success developing linebackers at Penn State since joining the staff in 2001. No details have been made public about why he is leaving or if he was forced out, but Vanderlinden's body of work at PSU has been stellar to say the least.
Sean Lee and NaVorro Bowman are considered two of the best linebackers in the NFL, and both learned under Vanderlinden at PSU, along with NFL standout Paul Posluszny and Nittany Lions career tackles leader Dan Connor. Vanderlinden also coached Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, who are in their first year in the NFL.
"I've greatly enjoyed my 13 years at Penn State and all the student-athletes I had an opportunity to work with," Vanderlinden said in the university statement. "I wish Coach O'Brien and Penn State nothing but the best in the future."
O'Brien and Vanderlinden did not return messages from the Altoona Mirror seeking comment about the move.
Vanderlinden also has been one of the best recruiters on the PSU staff, and he was the lead recruiter on at least a half-dozen members of the Lions' 2014 recruiting class.
Vanderlinden previously served as coach at Maryland from 1997 until he was fired in 2000, posting a 15-29 record with the Terrapins. He also was the linebackers coach at Northwestern from 1992-96 and coached Pat Fitzgerald, a two-time winner of the Bednarik and Nagurski awards as the best defensive player in college football.
Vanderlinden was one of two holdovers from the Joe Paterno coaching staff, and his departure leaves defensive line coach Larry Johnson as the lone holdover.
Fisher served two years as the Lions' quarterbacks coach. It's unclear exactly why he won't return, but one possibility is that O'Brien coaches the quarterbacks and is the offensive coordinator, so Fisher's role may not have been as relevant.
"I want to thank Penn State and Coach O'Brien for the opportunity to be a part of the program the past two seasons," Fisher said in the university statement. "It was a great experience, and I am very proud of what we accomplished. Now I'm looking forward to the next chapter and making a positive impact on the next group of players I have the privilege of working with."
Fisher had been considered instrumental in Matt McGloin's development and substantial improvement in 2012. McGloin is now the Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback.
Fisher worked this season with Christian Hackenberg, who on Tuesday was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Penn State's statement said O'Brien "will begin an immediate search to fill the two positions and will not comment on the status of the search until the positions have been filled."