Ohio State has tentatively scheduled a Monday news conference to announce that NFL linebacker Mike Vrabel will become an assistant coach on the beleaguered football team's staff, The Columbus Dispatch reported, citing sources close to the program.
Accepting the job would mean that Vrabel, who spent the last two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, is retiring from the NFL after a 14-year career. He was a two-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year at Ohio State before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1997.
Luke Fickell, Vrabel's former roommate at Ohio State, took over as the Buckeyes' interim coach May 30 after Jim Tressel resigned amid an NCAA investigation into improper benefits given to players by a local tattoo-parlor owner. Tressel found out about the benefits in April 2010, but despite contractual and NCAA obligations to report it, he didn't tell anyone at the school or the NCAA for more than nine months, knowingly playing ineligible players throughout the 2010 season.
Vrabel couldn't be reached Saturday, The Dispatch reported, and Fickell and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith wouldn't comment on the pending hire, according to the newspaper.
WHB-AM and College Football Talk also reported Friday about Vrabel's possible return to Ohio State's program. WHB-AM didn't cite any sources in tweeting that Vrabel had accepted a job with the school and would retire from the NFL. College Football Talk reported there was a "very good chance" Vrabel would call it quits to rejoin his alma mater and that "an announcement could made as early as this coming Monday," according to a source.
Vrabel, 35, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers, then was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams with the New England Patriots from 2001 to 2008. The Patriots shipped Vrabel and quarterback Matt Cassel to the Chiefs in February 2009 in return for the No. 34 overall pick in that April's draft.
Vrabel started 30 games over two seasons with the Chiefs and logged 100 total tackles, with two sacks and three forced fumbles.
Vrabel has 57 sacks, 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles in his career. He also scored touchdowns on all 10 of his receptions as a goal-line pass catcher.
If Vrabel does indeed join Ohio State's coaching staff, it would cap an interesting offseason for the linebacker. He was one of 10 players named as a plaintiff in the Brady et al v. the National Football League et al antitrust lawsuit filed in March. He also was arrested and charged with theft at the Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Ind., in April, but was released from jail after posting $600 cash bond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.