Blog Entry

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:25 am
Tom Brady looks better every day. Every day, that is, an assistant gets hired away from the Patriots.

It’s a great thing to work for the Pats, at the top of your profession, chasing Super Bowls each season. A stark reality set in when Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels left. They don’t necessarily get better. Their former franchise just keeps chugging along.

Freeman: Penn State should quit whining over good hire

See a pattern here? No. 12. He’s still there winning games without them.

With that, we present Bill O’Brien as the new coach at Penn State. O’Brien is the Patriots offensive coordinator. He is most famous to a large part of the population at the moment for getting into a sideline spat with Brady. For that transgression he was allowed to live.

Now he goes to Happy Valley where his career could die.

Maybe that’s not fair, but the one conclusion we can draw from this convoluted coaching search is that Penn State didn’t have a clue. If there was ever a time to hire a search firm, this was it. It didn’t. Instead, it looks like there were warring factions inside the search. What did Penn State want? We’re still not sure.

At least the school made a swift, definitive and convincing statement. Swift if you consider it was 45 days between Paterno’s firing and O’Brien’s reported hiring. Definitive if you consider that everyone but Knute Rockne turned down the job/used it for a raise/laughed into the phone when contacted.

Convincing if you consider that O’Brien, 42, may be nothing more than a sacrificial door jamb in big, cosmic coaching-go-round -- a go-between while Penn State football rights itself and the next Urban Meyer comes along. It’s only been a couple of days since he passed but let’s not forget that it was the late, great Gene Bartow who taught us never to be the guy to follow the guy.

Until his unsightly downfall, Paterno was college football’s Wooden. Paterno’s legacy is stained forever. But when the dust and lawyers settle, O’Brien will eventually be asked match a long, successful legacy that produced a .749 winning percentage.

Contract details have not been announced but if O’Brien doesn’t get at least a seven-year contract, he should fire his agent. The job was toxic before O’Brien took it. It’s going to take a while to clean it up. O’Brien is not the sexy hire that is going to talk undecided recruits in off the ledge. But the school couldn’t afford a sexy hire image-wise. That would have been sending the wrong message for a program that obviously has been worshipping at the altar of Paterno for too long.

During these 45 days, Penn State aimed high, scoured low and came up with a guy who is supposed to do what? Deconstruct and rebuild the program? Win the Big Ten next year?

Penn State would prefer to win quietly, out of the spotlight. That, of course, is impossible.

Fans with thousands invested in personal seat licenses aren’t going to stand for a de-emphasis of football. Winning the Big Ten anytime time soon seems impossible, too. There will be a faction of recruits who stay away from Penn State for obvious reasons: They don’t want to shower in the same place where a youth may have been sodomized.

There is still another faction of recruits who will always go there because they believe they can get to the NFL. That may sustain the program. O’Brien will say the right things and try to restore faith in football, school and community.

Time, then, for introductions all around. O’Brien has been New England’s OC since 2008. He has 14 years college experience as an assistant but none as a head coach. The Duke teams he was associated with went 1-22.

There are cautionary tales all around him: Weis parlayed the promise of seven games at Notre Dame into a 10-year contract. He is currently at Kansas trying to rebuild the Jayhawks and rehab his coaching image. Crennel is 26-41 as an NFL head coach. McDaniels lasted less than two years as coach of the Broncos. Magini is doing TV analysis.

O’Brien’s future awaits. Ironically, he needs a quarterback at Penn State for starters. Suddenly, for him, there are no Tom Bradys in sight.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:18 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Any Big Ten team could hire a genetic mutation of Vince Lombardi and Mother Teresa and Dodd would still find a way to criticize and pick it apart.

Conversely, a team in the SEC could hire a combination of Stalin and a high school JV cross country coach and Dodd would commend it as the greatest move in college football history.

CBSSports is to the SEC as what FOXNEWS is to the GOP.

Since: Nov 25, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:15 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

How many times does this need to be said? Penn State is NOT going to be sanctioned by the NCAA because THEY DIDN'T BREAK ANY RULES! What happened there may result in some new rules, but there are none to cover what has treanspired in this Sandusky scandal. So sanction them for what? As for O'Brien, he will likely be simply a placeholder for a few seasons before things die down and a better option comes along as it will be hard for him to succeed in the short term as recruiting will be tough and he inherits a team that needs a full offensive overhaul. Well, overhaul may be a poor choice of words as you have to initially have something if you are going to overhaul, and Penn State has no offense right now. Good luck. He'll need it.

Since: Mar 15, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:09 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Interesting article...maybe there should be another one titled "Dodd hire shows CBS didn't have a clue".  I agree with the some of the details in this article, but why does this mean Penn State didn't have a clue?  Someone please explain this to me?  I don't think anything Penn State did/does after this scandal will be looked at positively.  It will take some time for this to go away. 

Since: Oct 24, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:53 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Exactly what in the Penn State FOOTBALL program needs to be cleaned up?  No NCAA violations(and please don't give me the lack of institutional control baloney), high graduation rate, solid base of former players who obviously support the program, a very respectable group of returning players who given the circumstances did pretty well, and a legacy of outstanding citizenship.  Joe Paterno will remain as the best COLLEGE coach of all time, considering academics paramount and developing young kids into men and model citizens.  The Sandusky scandal is just beginning to unfold and Joe Paterno will be vindicated when the FACTS are known.  The PSU BOT stained the University and the BOT itself by firing Paterno without knowing the facts.  Joe didn't cover anything up, if anyone did, it would appear that Ray Gricar did in 1998 when in his function as District Attorney he failed to indict Sandusky.  We are and remain Penn State.

Since: Sep 13, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:07 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Hope OBrian can turn things around for PSU

Since: Mar 24, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:02 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:00 am
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Since: Apr 29, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:56 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Penn State was not going to get a name coach or hot prospect to replace Paterno.  The NCAA's investigating, Penn State can lose scholarships or be banned from bowl season for years.  Why would a coach with other options want to walk into that?  

Bradley wasn't going to get the job b/c the school is probably going to dismiss the entire staff.  O'Brien's not a great choice but he's someone to wear headsets on the sideline while the aftermath of the scandel shakes out.


Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:53 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Strange column.  It has nothing to do with reality.  I wonder what the hiring of O'Brien really does mean for Penn State.

Since: Jan 7, 2011
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:51 am

O'Brien hire shows Penn State didn't have a clue

Like i have always said most of Dodds comments are up in left field, I think with time O'Brien will turn things around at Penn State!

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