Tag:New England Patriots
Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:56 pm

Weis on O'Brien's recruiting and Super Bowl run

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Charlie Weis has a bit of advice for the latest Patriots offensive coordinator to get his first college head coaching job at a national program.

Win the Super Bowl first.

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is in the exact same place Weis was seven years ago with Notre Dame. Same job, same circumstance – splitting time between that college job and a Patriots playoff run.

“To be honest with you, I feel that if you’re making a run at the Super Bowl you have an ethical responsibility to finish the job,” Weis said Monday during a Kansas recruiting update.  

That’s how Weis did it in his last year with the Patriots. New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since then.

“I hope that’s how it turns out for the Patriots,” Weis said. “I hope that’s how it turns out for Bill [Belichick] and Billy [O’Brien].”

Weis has met O’Brien only casually but said the Patriots-Nittany Lions transformation is being handled by Belichick the same way it was seven years ago. After being named Notre Dame coach in late 2004, Weis didn’t take over full-time until after the Patriots won their last Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2005. O’Brien, finally named at Penn State on Jan. 6, has also been splitting duties as the Patriots head to the AFC championship game.

“The first year it hurts you because you’re now taking a small [recruiting] class,” Weis said. “You’re scrambling to get your staff in line. Case in point: [Penn State’s staff is] in line with two weeks left in recruiting. They’ll get some guys but they’re going to get whatever guys they can get with two weeks left to recruit.”

Weis’ first class consisted of only 15 players and finished 40<sup>th</sup> nationally (Rivals) with only two four-star prospects – tight end Joey Hibdon and receiver D.J. Hord.

“It hurts you in the first year, which then hurts you in the third year,” Weis said referring to a lack of depth that shows up when players are expected to mature as juniors.

Maxpreps.com currently has Penn State with only 13 commitments with two weeks left until signing day. Similar to Weis in his first ND season, O’Brien’s class is ranked 41<sup>st</sup> by Rivals.

Obviously, there are different recruiting issues. Penn State is trying to dig out from a horrific scandal. Notre Dame remains on that championship chase. Weis went to BCS bowls in his first two seasons in South Bend. The freshmen in that first recruiting class then went 10-15 in 2007 and 2008 as juniors and seniors. Weis was fired after the 2009 season.

“There was a big positive residual effect when I was both offensive coordinator with the Patriots and the head coach at Notre Dame – in the second year,” Weis said.  “You went and won it [Super Bowl] so now you have all these recruits looking at you. You don’t get them for that [first] year. The next year made it easier to recruit.”

True, Weis landed a top 10 class in 2006, but those players went 16-21 in their final three seasons. After staying with the Chiefs for one season (2010), Weis went to Florida as offensive coordinator in 2011. He stayed for the Chiefs one-game playoff  “run” before departing for Gainesville.

“It’s not like they’ve had a whole year left to go ahead and do the thing,” Weis said of O’Brien, “although …the next year it makes things a lot easier as far as recruiting.”


Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:25 am

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

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.
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