Before I express my thoughts on O’Brien leaving Penn State for purportedly greener pastures, let me excoriate every hack sports commentator’s, hack sportswriter’s, and hack sportswriter wannabe’s tacit resolution to never use the future tense, instead writing ambiguously incorrect crap like:
“Does O’Brien leave Penn State?”
Why, yes. Yes, he does. O’Brien leaves Penn State every night when he goes home.
I’m going to tell you this only once. Use the friggin’ future tense, as you learned in the sixth grade, dumbasses! The correct way to express the query above in an understandable manner is:
“Will O’Brien leave Penn State?”
Got it? Heyyyy, is that so damn difficult? Same number of words, already. If you can’t count to five, I’ll take that burden off your shoulders. Try using the future tense correctly for a change, and stop following the sports lemmings over the cliff of grammatical atrocities. You’re hurting my brain.
See? That wasn’t hard.
Now, back to O’Brien. Of course, we’ve all seen the rumors and the reactions to the rumors. O’Brien himself has been strangely silent through the process, possibly upon advice from his negotiating team. We hear about what he might have said to recruits and to Hackenberg, but haven’t heard directly from him. We know that O’Brien’s contract has a much lower NFL buyout provision than existed prior to its renegotiation this year. Reports of friction between O’Brien and Athletic Director Dave Joyner have added fuel to the fire, as has the departure of two well-regarded assistant coaches. O’Brien has engaged a recruiter type to help him sort out the offers. My only conclusion is no conclusion, as sufficient evidence exists to lead our conjectures in either direction: he will stay, or he will go.
We’ve heard rumors of visits to Old Main by Greg Schiano, soon to be fired Tampa Bay Bucs head coach, and Mike Munchak, soon to be fired Tennessee Titans head coach. Munchak has been around the NFL for a long time and the last time his name came up for the head coaching job at Penn State, primarily due to his PSU connection 30 years ago, he made it clear that he felt no ties to Dear Old State. Schiano isn’t that far removed from college coaching and he did a halfway decent job at Rutgers, but Penn State fans are equivocal about him. They might consider him a step down to the level of Rutgers. (LOL)
For some Penn State fans, anyone of less coaching stature than a reincarnated Joe Paterno, or a disinterred Knute Rockne (ew, no, like, he coached at Notre Dame — ew!) would suffice. Then, there are those who think that O’Brien hanging around will produce a contender for the national championship (less mythical after next year) in short order. These pipe dreams are ridiculous, but so is my digressing from O’Brien intentions. We don’t know yet whether he will bolt.
Let me not participate in the rumor mongering, but instead let me tell you what I think about O’Brien leaving, if indeed he says sayonara.
I’d be unhappy with him for leading some young players astray. To assure them he would be around in order to suck them in as recruits and subsequently abandon them would make him a lying sack of shit. (It seems that lying sacks of shit are popular in high places these days, but I digress).
I’d be unhappy with him for proclaiming that he would hang around for his contract period but later reneging on that promise. Of course, contracts are made to be broken, but the covenant between a head coach and his fan base, his university, his potential recruits, and to God Almighty should be as strong as a hydrogen bond. (Sorry, got a little melodramatic there and overstated the case). Yeah, I’d be unhappy about that breech of trust, but I understand that business decisions rarely make everybody happy. Let’s take this out of the emotional realm and place it where multi-million dollar contract machinations belong: in the dog-eat-dog world of business.
I’d be unhappy with him for leaving a job half done. On the other hand, I never thought that he would hang around for more than a couple of years. I’m too lazy to go back and find my prediction, but what I wrote was that the next guy after Paterno would have such a rough job that he wouldn’t last, and that stability would not return to Penn State’s football program until that first guy’s successor was hired. I still believe that, and I can see evidence that O’Brien is experiencing great frustrations with the NCAA sanctions and with the administration, just as I thought he would.
I’d be unhappy with him for leaving — selfishly unhappy, admittedly — because it would open up the floodgates for pro-Paterno forces (you know those of whom I write) to pop up all over the place trying to turn back the clock and even lobbying to hire “a Paterno”. (You know who that would be, too.) These are people who hypocritically believe publicly that football shouldn’t run the University but their objective is to elect directors who will “restore St. Joe’s win legacy” and do little of import to the academic mission. Accountability is certainly desirable, but let’s dispense with those St. Joe strings, already, please! Penn State will never have another head coach who exceeds 40 years tenure in the position, but some people can’t get that through their heads. If O’Brien leaves, we’re going to be subjected to the pipe dreams of these people, to whom I say: Get a life! Your Penn State degree is in no way tied to the football program (unless your name is Morelli). C’mon! It’s football, ferchrissakes! If O’Brien stays for a while, these Paternoites will fade into obscurity. If he leaves soon, they’re still waiting to pounce. Again. Ad nauseam.
I wouldn’t be unhappy with O’Brien for finding greener pastures for himself and his family. We only get one lifetime to optimize, and most of us have had to step on some toes here and there in order to achieve the successes we wanted. Of course, we’ve also had our toes stepped on, and we don’t like that feeling. O’Brien is human and he has to deal with human problems that extend way beyond his employer. An example is his special needs son. While O’Brien has lauded the care available in State College for the kid and many have made the assumption that he’ll stay to maintain it, do you think that better care wouldn’t be available in the nation’s fourth largest city? Don’t you think NFL bucks would be available to provide that for their coach’s kid? Get your heads out of your asses! I wish O’Brien and his family well if he gets the NFL job we are all pretty sure he wants and has wanted all along, replete with a cherry contract that he practically writes himself. I can’t blame him for striking while the iron is hot!
Oh, and in State College he’s a “couple hour” drive away from Cape Cod, right? That’s a good one! He can fly from Houston to Boston and get a commuter flight to the Cape in significantly less time than driving from Central Pennsylvania, for God’s sake! And with an NFL contract, he’d have other, better options available. His negotiating team will make damn certain of that.
How about schools? Well, State College isn’t the only place in the world with schools.
In short, if O’Brien goes away, it might be a setback for the football program, but that’s all it will set back. The rest of the world will function quite well, as will Penn State University, regardless of what the footballheads think.
Probably by the time I publish this Billy Boy will have made up his mind. I’ve read that Houston could make an announcement as early as Tuesday.
Will Penn State be searching for a head coach in 2014?
What do you feel would be the overall impact of O’Brien’s departure?