Thursday, January 5, 2012
Your Next Head Coach Of Penn State Football: Bill O'Brien. Wait, What?
There is settling in life and then there is choosing Bill O'Brien to be the new head football coach at Penn State.
This absurd rumor was validated tonight as ESPN's Chris Mortenson tweeted that New England's offensive coordinator has been chosen to lead the Nittany Lions starting next season. The official announcement from the University is expected on Saturday although O'Brien will stay with the Patriots throughout the postseason.
Let me say a few nice words about the anonymous guy that will soon take over the most toxic job in all of sports. First, he's from Andover, MA and he also played football and graduated from Brown University. Those are two local connections that I can relate to and appreciate.
Now let's get real. O'Brien has never been a head coach, at any level. Before coming to New England, he worked at such college powerhouses as Duke, Georgia Tech and Maryland. How many other, more qualified candidates turned down Penn State? I'd venture a guess that it was easily in double digits. If you've been keeping track, it's been nearly two months since they fired Joe Paterno so clearly, they've had ample time to assemble a good list.
O'Brien probably figured that this was the fastest way for him to be able to be the face of a program-college or professional. Still, wouldn't you rather just be the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (another rumor about him) than jump into the absolute mess in Happy Valley, PA? I guess he figures he can be a hero and change the culture there. Good luck with that.
As for more pertinent matters with Patriots fans, how will this affect the team in the playoffs? Looking back in 2004-05 (the last Super Bowl champion), a similar scenario occurred with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis being a lame duck before he went to Notre Dame. The Pats ended up rolling through the playoffs and beating the Eagles in the Super Bowl for their third title in four seasons.
Everybody knows that the Bill Belichick coaching tree has not been fruitful when it comes to head coaching success. Usually, they (Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Weis) have moderate success at first before completely losing it and getting fired a few years later. We just don't know much about O'Brien to say with any conviction that he'll be any different, especially under the circumstances.
If I'm Belichick, I'm cutting the phone lines to O'Brien's office at Gillette Stadium and also confiscating any cell phones he has. That is to ensure optimal focus while New England is still alive in the playoffs. After that, see ya later. Thanks for the memories Bill (O'Brien).