It’s halftime of the Steelers game, and I just needed to offer a couple of thoughts about the rumor that Bill O’Brien is a strong candidate for the head coaching job at Penn State. Some of this will be controversial, but I’ve already taken heat on Twitter about it, so what the hell. First, I’ve got to say that unlike the others, this rumor might have some good grounding.
CBS broke the story this morning, but then it was retracted. However, now it is being widely reported that O’Brien, currently offensive coordinator for the NFL New England Patriots, is our man. I’ve looked over O’Brien’s background and to me, he looks pretty damn good.
First, he has college experience, having been an assistant coach at Brown (his alma mater, like Paterno), Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Duke. He started as an offensive assistant at New England in 2007, then became wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and finally, his present job of offensive coordinator.
Another factor in O’Brien’s favor is his age. He is 42. Penn State wants a coach who will be around for a while. Well, here’s a guy who can give us 20 years at least.
O’Brien has played tight end, linebacker, and defensive end. He’s coached tight ends, running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers, and an NFL offense that is no joke.
I’ve heard from folks whose sentimentality gets in the way of their objectivity about this coaching search (as if we fans have anything to say about it). We all have our opinions. Mine is that “Penn State ties” are not an essential qualification. People wanted Mike Munchak, who played for State 30 years ago and built a career with the Oilers/Titans organization. If his only ties are playing at PSU 30 years ago, it’s mere symbolism.
Another thing I’ve taken heat for about O’Brien occurred today during the Patriots game. The Pats were losing to lowly Buffalo, and even though a win would guarantee them home field advantage for the playoffs, the offense was playing like they were running a scrimmage. Having to settle for a field goal after a couple of sloppily incomplete passes down 21-14, O’Brien huddled the starting offense, including the vaunted Tom Brady, and chewed them all new assholes — on camera for all to see. No doubt that clip has made it to YouTube by now. In any case, what the hell is wrong with a coach yelling at his players, telling them to get their heads out of their asses? Paterno did it, and I would be suspect of a head coaching candidate who didn’t have that kind of fire. Did O’Brien’s tactic work today? You bet it did. The Patriots came from behind to win going away, 49-21.
Give me a little passion and youth in our new coach. I would like a broom that sweeps the football organization clean and creates a 21st Century powerhouse. I don’t think any of the present coaches need to be considered. I’m hoping this O’Brien rumor is true.