As Penn State has searched for a successor for interim head football coach Tom Bradley, they faced an uphill battle from the beginning. The program is marred in one of the biggest scandals in the history of sports and the new coach was going to have the unappealing task of replacing the winningest coach in the history of college football, Joe Paterno.
With such uncertainty, Penn State could hardly give away this job. A who’s who of elite coaches turned them down.
Now they are set to hire New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien, and former Penn State players are criticizing the hire.
As ugly as this program is right now, whoever the new coach would have been, to welcome him with anything but support and open arms would have been foolish. Being critical of the hire takes the level of classlessness to a whole new level.
A major impetus to the criticisms for O’brien is that he’s “not a Penn State guy.” It’s true that the 42 year old coach has no ties with the university. I’m not so sure that this wasn’t done by design.
When the Jerry Sandusky Scandal broke, it made the program appear as though they cared more about control and keeping things in house than they did about morality as they swept sexual abuse of young boys under the proverbial rug. And now, former players are kicking and screaming about an outsider being the new head coach. They don’t even understand that they continue to feed into the stereotypes under which the public views this program.
O’brien made some headlines this NFL season when he got into a sideline screaming match during a game with star Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady. There have been other lively bouts from O’brien, and some of the players cite this as being a liability to the image of the program.
So let me get this straight: players are worried that a sometimes emotional Bill O’brien will be bad for their image? These are the same players who defended Joe Paterno when it came to light that he had done nothing about having a child molestor connected to the program! It is unbelievable to me that these guys could have the audacity to talk about image given the types of people that they supported.
Bradley handled the last few weeks of the regular season with class and represented the program as well as could be expected.
Given Bradley’s loyalty and his history with the program, many wanted to see him given the opportunity to remain as head coach.
Given Bradley’s loyalty and history with the program, Penn State had to part ways with him. After everything the program has been through, they could not retain remnants of the old school. I do agree that it usually ideal for historically strong college football programs to hire people who have played or coached for them in the past, but schools who have gone against that trend have found success, and it was the type of move Penn State had to make.
Even if the scandal had not happened, replacing Paterno was not going to be an easy task.
I think that people who love Penn State need to support O’brien as he has the significant challenge of trying to restore credibility to the football program on the field (but more importantly, off the field). The fact that prominent former players are publicly opposing O’brien is an embarrassment.