Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien is moving on to the greener pastures of the NFL. The Houston Texans have named him their new sheriff in town. This should come as no surprise to the Happy Valley faithful.
After all the problems the Texans endured this past season, Coach O’Brien is a great pick to get them into the playoffs. His problems in Houston will probably seem small in comparison to what he has battled through for the Nittany Lions.
O’Brien was outstanding as the leader of the Lions. In the wake of the Sandusky scandal and dismissal of longtime coach Joe Paterno, his no nonsense, lead by example, work hard and we’ll get this done attitude was just what the university needed. He was the right person at the right time.
He provided the strong ethical and moral leadership needed; along with the coaching ability to win fifteen games over the past two seasons.
If you remember, many of those so-called experts, predicted that Penn State would crash and burn after the scandal. Scholarship penalties, bowl and championship sanctions, stiff financial punishment and the stigma of the Sandusky debacle would prevent Penn State from recruiting the players needed to compete. Who would want to join the Blue and White and play for the pride of rebuilding a once proud program?
Well, Coach O’Brien sold himself, sold his program and sold Penn State pride. His determination and commitment allowed him to keep the top Lions in the den and land top recruits. He created excitement with a wide-open style of football and a yes-we-can attitude. There was no rebuilding – just two solid seasons of football, that ended with a statement win over a highly ranked Wisconsin squad in Madison. Much excitement was in the air for next season in Happy Valley.
What happened? Well from what I have gathered from sources close to the program, O’Brien intended on returning. Proof of this was in his recent firing of Ron Vanderlinden, Linebackers Coach. He knew he had a high-powered offense for the 2014 season, but didn’t hesitate on making a change to improve the defense.
His recruiting efforts have been reported successful for his class of 2018 and his focus there is also on the defensive side of the ball.
So why is he going? Most recent promises made to him by the university and athletic departments have not been fulfilled.
Coach O’Brien lobbied, and was told he had the support of the AD and President to pursue the lifting of the bowl ban. O’Brien was very disappointed in the administration’s effort in regards to this matter. He felt his players should have an opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts on the field, in the classroom and in their continued commitment to Penn State University.
O’Brien was also to receive an increased budget for assistant coaching salaries, football technology and for player development. This too did not come to fruition. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back may have been recent criticism from board members and a high-ranking university official.
Coach O’Brien put his heart and soul into the job and only wanted the best for the young men he coached, the university and the Nittany Lion Nation. His development of Matt McGloin into an NFL quarterback for the Oakland Raiders and Christian Hackenberg into the top freshman QB in the country is a testament to his ability. It is the best development of quarterbacks I have witnessed at Penn State.
Then there is Allen Robinson, who has flourished in the Coach O’Brien system. He is an All-American wide receiver who will soon be a first-round draft pick. This is just further proof the man can just flat out coach and develop offensive talent.
Thank you Coach O’Brien for all you have done in the name of Penn State football. Mostly, providing that strong leadership and hope of better days, when the university was experiencing something that never seemed imaginable in college athletics.
It should not be surprising that the same board and university leadership that gave Louis Freeh absolute power even though he had no ability to subpoena witnesses and gather all the facts, allowed the NCAA to use this report as the backbone of their investigation. They agreed to accept whatever punishment the NCAA handed down even though the state had not completed its investigation and Sandusky had not been tried. Did they not understand they had a responsibility to manage and protect the university assets as a business? Not cave into political and media pressure no matter what the situation was.
I can’t even imagine a president or CEO and board of directors of a major corporation giving up control of the entity they are responsible for and allowing others to make decisions that affect the future of the organization. I think the state needs to take a hard look at all of these individuals at University Park and their actions prior to and during the crisis.
Sandusky is a truly evil, sick individual. What I feel should have been done with him far exceeds the legal bounds of our state. Anyone found guilty of covering up his actions should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The victims should receive all the support, counseling and financial compensation to hopefully move past this horrific event. I understand how difficult this must be and can’t imagine if it happened to one of my loved ones. May God help them and their families find peace.
The leadership at the university needs to move forward and expedite the return of the football normalcy. Put this in the past and allow the hardworking young men and their coaches to be rewarded for their efforts.
Sandusky is in jail, JoePa has left us and the others accused are awaiting trial. We need to trust in our criminal and civil court systems. This is where they should have been tried in the first place – not by the NCAA, media and the court of public opinion. After due process, if additional penalties or sanctions were deemed necessary – then they could have proceeded.