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: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:31 am

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

Penn State's decision or process to hire a coach should not be scrutinized.  The plain fact is, they needed one.  And soon.  There are 80+ young men who had nothing to do with the montrosity that was going on 10 odd years ago.  PSU did not need  a search firm or a headhunter.  The only better way to have found a head coach, in hindsight, is the way FSU did when Bobby left and Jimbo took over.  The coach in waiting technique.  Criticize O'Brien all you want, 'dead man walking', but the void needed to be filled and no matter who was selected, that guy was stepping into an unprecedented college football challenge.  So don't take a jab a Penn State for hiring a coach.  Don't take a shot at O'Brien for leaving the Patriots.  For once, think about the football players and the rest of their collegiate football careers.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:19 am

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

Dodd, I would not be the one to use the word clueless, if I were you.  You were the one who told us that Ralph Friedgen was going to lead Maryland to membership in the elite programs.  You were the one who less than eighteen months ago told us that Alabama/Florida was THE best current rivalry in sports.  Of course, you had to correct yourself a couple mnths later when you came to the realization that the Alabama/Auburn rivalry is a lot more intense and has been for some time.  And this season you've made a point that the Alabama/LSU game was too much of a defensive struggle, much like a soccer game.  This, of course, overlooks the fact that your alma mater is now a member of the SEC and if it ever hopes to compete in that conference, it will have to play DEFENSE.  And how could you even begin to compare Paterno to John Wooden?  Let's start with the FACT that Wooden knew that when it was time to go, that's what he did.  So who is really clueless, again?

Since: Jan 2, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 5:20 am
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Since: Jan 2, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 4:42 am
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Since: May 26, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:36 am

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

A stark reality set in when Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels left. They don’t necessarily get better.
And I think it's high time that people start acknowledging that the Belichick coaching tree is without question the most overrated aspect of the future hall of famer's credentials. In fact, it's the only overrated aspect in my eyes. Bill Belichick is great and a future hall of famer. Ditto for Tom Brady. But let's not make this thing out to be the 2nd coming of the Bill Walsh coaching tree. So far it's been nothing but a whole lot of dry, and even rotten fruit. For a while Josh McDaniels looked like he'd be the one guy who'd make it, but he cancelled out all the good things he could do as a play caller and quarterbacking guru by making pathetic personnel decisions.

And perhaps that's the way Coach Belichick wants it. Who wants to groom their eventual successor? What kind of guy sets things up so that he can become replaceable? Belichick must keep the best of his secrets and the most valuable of his knowledge to himself. Because, at the end of the day, this really boils down to good old workplace politics.

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