Well this sucks.
I was scrolling through my twitter as I couldn’t sleep and saw the report coming out from ESPN that the Houston Texans had come to terms with Bill O’Brien to become the next head coach of the franchise. O’Brien will be walking away from State College to chase his dream of coaching on Sunday’s, leaving behind a confused fan base unsure of how to react.
I must admit I am stunned. I never thought he’d walk out. I thought this flirting with the NFL was just that. He seemed like a man with so much integrity but it just goes to show that you never know what to believe. He was always going to bolt for the pros and we all knew that Sunday’s was where he wanted to coach but he had a job to do and I fully expected him to see the Hackenberg/Breneman recruiting class through to the end of their college careers.
Of course at the time of writing it is just a report out of Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter but I think we can safely say that this deal is going to get done. Now we move on to who might replace him and O’Brien’s legacy. We’ll start with his legacy, it is a very tricky to really work out what it’ll be. He held the programme together at a time when everybody thought it would completely fall apart. He turned Matt McGloin, he of the great quote, ‘Broadcast/journalism was my first degree. Being awesome was the second,’ into an NFL quarterback. This 2012 team will go down as one of the most revered in Penn State history because of what they had to deal with and O’Brien was the person who held it all together. However he looked 18 year-old kids in the eye and told them he’d be with them all the way through their college careers and then bolted on them after just one year. That stinks.
We have been spoiled in having Joe Paterno as head coach for as long as we did. Whatever his pitfalls, which may or may not have been significant, he was extremely loyal and whilst he did flirt with the NFL and even agreed to go to the Patriots, he never left and made it his life’s work to mould kids into fine young men and win a few football games along the way. As he once said, ‘Success without honour is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.’
Bill O’Brien never bought into the Grand Experiment and that riled a tad. I think eventually Penn State will be the footnote of the Bill O’Brien story. He used us to get his dream job and to be fair in his two years in State College he did a fine job in righting the rudderless ship. The sourness though of sacking Ron Vanderlinden just before quitting himself leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and lying to teenage kids…yeah its not great is it?
Moving on to who replaces him, I’m firmly in the James Franklin camp. The guy can flat out recruit and he won at Vanderbilt, which is an extremely fine academic institution and was an afterthought in the SEC. He’s still a relatively young man at only 41 years of age, is a Pennsylvania kid and I think he would be very interested in taking on the role at State College, seeing it as a great long-term job as well. I don’t want to see any NFL rejects, certainly ones recently available out of shall we say, Tampa, Florida…
The man who’ll decide who to approach is Dave Joyner and he’s not exactly flavour of the month amongst the fan base. No-one seems to trust him to make the right decision and when Michael Mauti comes out and says if O’Brien leaves within 3-5 years then it’ll be Joyner’s fault, then that holds a whole lot of cachet.
All I know is it’s 4:20 in the morning and I actually have to get up tomorrow but I’m pretty pissed – as in annoyed – not drunk. We’ll see how this unfolds but this is all extremely disheartening.
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