Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien wasted no time in making a couple of post-season coaching moves on Monday, according to reports, dumping Paterno Dynasty holdover linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and second-year quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher.
Fight On State’s Mark Brennan opined that “The days of Penn State football having a static coaching staff for years on end appear to be over.”
This will leave highly respected and much-loved Larry Johnson, Sr. as the only remaining vestige of the Paterno regime. I had felt that O’Brien would want to replace Vandy and LJ when the timing was right. It will take longer for the timing to be right with respect to LJ due to the aforementioned high respect and much love. O’Brien has made this program his own and will continue to do so. I give LJ, a solid recruiter, one more year.
O’Brien is closed-mouthed about the moves, as anyone who has dealt with him would expect. He frequently speaks in code; thus, we’ll have to look for nuances here and there. The truth will eventually emerge.
Vanderlinden didn’t return Brennan’s call, so we will have to wait for any smoke signals from that camp.
Heading into the recruiting season, O’Brien is obviously working quickly to assemble his team.
It was always this turkey’s feeling that Vanderlinden and Johnson were retained somewhat begrudgingly as a perceived requisite for alumni appeasement, given the turmoil surrounding the St. Joe firing and the Tickle Monster scandal. Too much change too fast would upset the fragile balance. Now that O’Brien is entrenched, he can shuck the surly bonds of the Paterno past with impunity. And he will. The new broom is still in the process of sweeping clean. To dump both legacy assistant coaches in one fell swoop would have been too much. LJ will wait and he’ll probably retire gracefully. When he does, it’ll be “his idea.” O’Brien seems to have the political timing concept down pat.
One thing is for certain. Unlike the late Paterno years, we won’t be bitching that a static coaching staff has rendered Penn State devoid of new blood and new ideas.
Neither Vanderlinden nor Fisher is reportedly under consideration by USC for that institutions’ open head coaching position.