David Jones to Talk on OTL

David Jones of the Patriot News has become an instant national celebrity due to his interview with Bill O’Brien in which O’Brien expressed significant frustration and gross discontent with certain factions at Penn State, enough so to make him “want to put his fist through the windshield.” Jones will appear on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” this afternoon at 4:30. You have my permission to leave work early.

According to what Jones reported, O’Brien had felt hampered by the faction he referred to as “the Paterno people” at Penn State, to wit:

“You can print this: You can print that I don’t really give a —- what the ‘Paterno people’ think about what I do with this program. I’ve done everything I can to show respect to Coach Paterno. Everything in my power. So I could really care less about what the Paterno faction of people, or whatever you call them, think about what I do with the program. I’m tired of it.

“For any ‘Paterno person’ to have any objection to what I’m doing, it makes me wanna put my fist through this windshield right now.”

This came up in response to a question about assistant coach Ron Vanderlinden, a vestige of the St. Joe administration who was kept on the staff as one of two holdovers partially to appease that faction, but who left Penn State toward the end of the 2013 season. No one really knows what happened there — the usual asinine conjectures coming from Internet message boards have produced lots of rumors that ultimately gain traction — as mum’s been the word from the actual parties involved.

As expected, some people representing themselves as “Paterno People” have tweeted a lot of defensive shit washing their hands of the situation. They should. They had nothing to do with it personally. However, clearly St. Joe’s lingering presence and the faction within the university who are not just Internet wannabes who either seek to keep the sainted Joe’s pervasive presence alive long after his death and disassociation from the football program could remain a thorn in the side of anyone seeking to take over the football program for years to come.

Their power is not necessarily manifested through direct interaction, but as a tacit undercurrent. It is there, and it is palpable. It is a mindset. Walk into alumni chapter meetings and feel it. It is always lurking beneath the surface. St. Joe lives. O’Brien called them “Paterno People”; I’ll call them Klingons.

No amount of defensive social media machinations will mitigate their pervasive, albeit dwindling, influence. Coming from a weak position, it is likely to serve the opposite purpose. Some people, weary of all the crapola, will decide that enough is enough.

Mind you, I believe that Joe was done wrong by the University and the NCAA and I believe that his accomplishments should be recognized and preserved for posterity. I don’t give a shit about the statue and I’m somewhat ambivalent about the win record. I’d like to put all the sanctions behind us as soon as possible. However, that all is now a separate issue and the Paterno legacy, if you will, is simply not an ongoing concern of the football program anymore. These issues should not intersect with its operation, henceforth and forever.

I can understand how appeasement of the pro-Paterno alumni base at the time of O’Brien’s hire was a necessary and sensitive thing to do, as continuity of the program somewhat depended on stemming the tide of further diminution of the fan base (erosion that coaching failures in Paterno’s later years, coupled with the STEP Program had already started). We’re now once removed from that time. The next head coach should not be subjected to any Paternolistic machinations. None. Not directly or subtly. Let those people continue their losing fight with the Board of Trustees and stay the hell out of the ongoing operation of the football program and the University as a whole.

That’s my position and I’m sticking with it. No, I don’t know what happened with Vanderlinden and I don’t care. O’Brien was in charge of the football program and had every right to fire Vanderlinden, if that’s what he did, for whatever reason. He doesn’t have to answer to anybody, other than Ron Vanderlinden, about that. The whining via social media demanding answers will always be there, as will be the opinions of the legitimate media. O’Brien wouldn’t be the first sports figure who was driven out of town by bad press and the latest thing “social media pressure,” but my conjecture is that those were not primary reasons for his departure. He obviously had an excellent job offer on the table and was torn about leaving his kids. Lingering resentment over this shit just gave him the push over the top.

Comments

  1. Joe says

    Sorry NT, but I have to say “bullshit” to your conclusion that the Paternoists were the tipping point in OB deciding to go to the NFL. No one forced this guy to do anything he didn’t want to do and I believe he’s the kind of person who would look you in the eye and tell you to go fuck yourself if he didn’t like what you were saying or you questioned his decision.

    The Paternoists (or Paternolists-not sure which if either is correct) are a small number of people who will never be satisfied until Joe comes out of the cyro-tank and resumes his head coaching position for the next 40 years. So the Paternoists don’t like names on the jerseys-fuck you. Don’t like beards and long hair-tough shit. I’m firing Vandy & Fischer for whatever the fuck reason, (which most certainly had to be cleared with Joyner, legal and HR at PS)-kiss my ass.

    The fan base bought in, the students bought in, the lettermen bought in (except for Franco) and most importantly his players and recruits bought in so I can’t believe OB was that deeply affected by what a handful of living in the past Paterno worshippers said.

    Here’s my reasons for his departure.

    -He got an offer as he said “was unexpected and he just couldn’t pass up”.
    -McNair is by all reports is a pretty decent and patient owner compared to some of the other idiots who own NFL teams.
    -$$$$$$ + whatever perks and personnel control got thrown on top of the pile of cash was too much to walk away from, although for some stupid reason he did go back to PS for a counter offer.
    -A decent roster.
    -You can only flirt with the NFL so many times before your sincerity is questioned.
    -He also recognized that this was the optimal time to go after the past two seasons of turning a sows ear into a silk purse (although I would debate his coaching abilities in certain games the past two years and the 4 losses in essentially a senior laden player roster in ’12 with a bunch of guys who ended up grabbing spots on NFL rosters).
    -The realization that if he couldn’t produce once he had a full bouquet of scholarships and Hack only marginally improved over the next 2-3 years his NFL coaching worth would most likely suffer.

    I still don’t trust Jones and without some recording of the conversation I don’t like to accept one side of a conversation of this magnitude especially from the person who coined the word JoeBots, which purports that it’s the same old PS and we didn’t learn shit from IT. Did Jones push OB down that path with the “the Paternoists want to know why you fired Vandy”? Don’t know, but wouldn’t be surprised. Ever listen to Jones’ questions at Bill’s pressers? OB was usually pretty terse in responding to his dumb-ass questions. Can’t believe all of a sudden he became a confidant! I still think the guy is a small time reporter at a small time newspaper looking for some pub and maybe a better job somewhere.

    Nope the guy left because he felt the time was right to leave.

    So now we’ll see if he really is the offensive guru/QB developer he claims to be.

    Anyone can win with Brady-half the calls the OC makes are changed via audible anyway.

    We’ll also see what he does with Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel in the draft. All of them have their warts and may take time to make the jump to the big show.

    Don’t get me wrong I was an OB fan, but let’s not throw the blame, even a small part on anyone else forcing him out. This was his call and he made the jump. It’s a business remember and as he said today, he didn’t mislead anyone throughout this process. Sure, he didn’t!

    Peace-out!

    • says

      I agree with all your reasons for O’Brien leaving. I’m not saying that the Paternoists had any active involvement in forcing him out — I agree with you that O’Brien didn’t dignify that kind of shit with even a reaction. However, the undercurrent, including crap published in the Patriot News by Flounders and Jones throughout O’Brien’s Penn State tenure might have had something to do with it, if even in a small way. My feeling that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back stands, and following is my logic.

      Little things influence big decisions all too often. It’s a decision situation I’ve found myself in many times through life. Major shit going on. Big decision coming up. What the hell to do when there is no clear-cut decision path. Both sides of the coin have equal weight, but flipping a coin is a ridiculous abdication of responsibility. One sits there mulling pros and cons at length: the big things come first. It’s still even. Hmmmmm. WTF to do? Then, the petty little niggling crap that existed in the background and maybe never gave one pause, but sure as hell were irritating in their background noise kind of way, reducing comfort level a bit but never enough to be a reason to hop off the train, pop up and start yanking one around. Now there’s something out there that is major enough to give serious consideration to making a major change. The little, niggling things become significant when the major issues even out. This happens in interpersonal relationship decisions as well as business decisions. Sometimes it is subconscious and we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

      In O’Brien’s case, he wanted to be a man of his word with his players, and he was clearly torn between that and what might have been the offer of a lifetime. Every time he snapped back from pulling the trigger on signing with the Texans, they sweetened the pot a bit. He kept resisting. Finally, they became immutable with their offer. It was H-Hour and the mountains of evidence had to be weighed or opportunity would be lost. In the back of his mind: If I bolt, I’m going to lose a lot of respect from Penn State people, from the athletes I love, and maybe even from myself; however, on the plus side, I’m not going to have to put up with all that Paterno bullshit where I’m going. The NFL runs more like a business and less like a fucked-up so-called collegial University. We don’t have much time here, so I’m going to pick that plum, and damn the torpedoes. I’ll exit the emotional, secular world of the modern public university and then they won’t have Dick Nixon Bill O’Brien to kick around anymore.

      Speaking of university life, working in one in a position with any kind of responsibility is a pain in the ass — always. I’ve been there, so this isn’t anything you haven’t heard from me before. There are too many asses to kiss and too much political bullshit going on all over the place, which gives rise to the old proverb: “In acadème the fights are so vicious because the stakes are so small.” The higher up you go in the university heirarchy, the more vicious the politics get. The lines of authority and responsibility that exist in business are not recognized in a university. They use the term “collegiality” coupled with “academic freedom” to excuse amorphous, self-interested, and divisive management. What’s worse as concerns the head football coach, there are external and semi-external interests to be accommodated in some way, all wanting their pound of flesh. (This crap is closer to what happens in Washington D.C. than in private industry, but I digress.) O’Brien, from all I’ve read, did not want to have to play that game, which he found to be a lot fiercer than he had imagined. His previous forays into academia were not as the head of the football program, so he would have been largely insulated from such machinations. He had remarked once that he didn’t like having to be the spokesman for the university. No, he’s not a university kind of guy. He’s NFL through and through, and that’s where he is to stay.

      —TNT

    • says

      And as to whether it’s “Paternoists” or “Paternolistic Ones” or whatever, I get to make up the neologistic palaver around here! It’s whatever I want it to be. :)

      —TNT

      • Joe says

        The judges can accept that! So from now on, I will defer to your supreme authority and refer to those meddling alums as “Paternolistic Ones”.

  2. says

    Watched it. Not much new here.

    Cory Giger was also on the show.

    Jones said that he had talked with O’Brien earlier in December when O’Brien seemed to be ambivalent about leaving PSU, so he withheld the story, not wanting it to be the catalyst for O’Brien’s departure decision.

    Davey Boy also brought up a valid point with respect to going after Al Golden. He said that Golden and his family are established in South Florida, so Penn State ought to make a pretty sweet offer to get them to want to move to Central Pennsylvania. “This is a bad time to be negotiating,” said Jones, dressed in a ratty sweater and sitting by a Christmas tree, his image being transmitted by a webcam. It’s kind of cold up there right now, and there’s some white crap falling from the skies that never happens in South Florida. So, yeah, they better sharpen their pencils, if not their heads.

    One other thing Jones emphasized was that this time it appeared as if Joyner was given the reins to the search without a lot of interference from the BoT and outsiders (namely Lupert and Pegula). This is a good thing. Too many cooks spoil the stew.

    They touched upon the emotionality that colors many Penn State fans’ thinking about the football program, Happy Valley, etc., a notion with which I tend to agree, as you know. I hope the search committee will act without deference to that kind of thinking.

    Larry Johnson was not mentioned a single time.

    Respectfully reported,

    TNT

    • says

      That was a good collection of questions and responses overall.

      I thought Ziegler’s questions were his usual annoyingly inflammatory crap, straight from the hip, and were quickly defused by Jones.

      In spite of those who disparage Jones, I cannot fault him on his understanding of the manifold differences between university employment and real-world employment. He has a sensitivity to the bullshit that goes on inside the ivy covered walls that few outsiders seem to have or want to acknowledge.

      I do believe that he captured the “Paterno People” annoyance factor I referred to in a prior response to one of your comments, the niggling background noise kind of thing that perhaps made O’Brien slightly uncomfortable but which rose to the surface after he had a serious opportunity to land an NFL job. He might have tolerated it for much longer if he had no better offers, but without it he might have hung around longer. Who knows? I just put myself in his situation and we all know how flawed that kind of reasoning is.

      One of the interesting comments in the Jones transcript is his notion that NFL guys who drop down to the college level tend to want to bounce back to the NFL eventually. There’s a good reason for that; it is wrested in the much maligned (by me, specifically) university bullshit. It really is a jungle and few have the stomach for it over the long haul. If they’ve had a taste of arguably well run NFL organizations (they have profit motive, and run like businesses), they know there’s a better way than the Mickey Mouse way things are done in universities. They leave. A very few can build power bases, and become entrenched — but we all know to what end that leads!

      —TNT