Posts tagged ‘Bill O’Brien’
It started quietly, with Bill O’Brien releasing a short statement Monday morning. He followed that Tuesday with a teleconference with local media in which he laid out his approach to dealing with the NCAA-imposed obstacles to on-field success: He will emphasize all that Penn State still has to offer—home games in front of 100,000-plus fans, facilities on par with any in the nation, a coaching staff that understands how to prepare prospects for a chance at the NFL. Already, he is pitching players and recruits—any of whom can leave for another program if they choose—on rising to the challenge. And, yes, he says he’s “committed for the long term.”
O’Brien’s media tour continued Wednesday with appearances on ESPN (this 15-minute interview is well worth watching), all leading up to his trip to Chicago for this week’s Big Ten media days. As he’s done almost without fail in his first seven months on the job, O’Brien continues to say all the right things. On Wednesday morning, he got some backing from his players, as a group of a few dozen, led by seniors and likely captains Michael Zordich and Michael Mauti, met the media to publicly state their unity and commitment to the program.
There’s no telling how many current and future Lions will be able to maintain such a fierce commitment over the next four years. But after another rough stretch of days in an ongoing saga, this is a promising sign.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
After Rip Engle retired as Penn State’s football coach, Joe Paterno was introduced at his successor at a news conference on Saturday morning, Feb. 19, 1966. On the front page of the next issue of The Daily Collegian, this was the top headline: “Model U.N. Whips USSR Bloc.”
Underneath, there were stories about whether changing the rules on female students living in apartments would lead to moral ruin (one student testified that at other schools with similar rules, “they have no trouble with pregnancies”), about the Collegian’s new editor and business manager, and about the concert that kicked off Greek Week 1966: Simon and Garfunkel in Recreation Building.
Paterno was mentioned on page 6. At the bottom. In a story headlined “Paterno Retains Staff.”
To be fair, the Collegian published Tuesday through Saturday in those days, so the news was a couple of days old. But it’s still remarkable to contrast the introduction of Paterno with that of his successor, Bill O’Brien, who was introduced Saturday morning at the Nittany Lion Inn in a ballroom full of media members, donors, university officials, alumni, and what seemed like some fans who wandered in. O’Brien’s news conference was televised and streamed live by the Big Ten Network (if you missed it, you can watch it here), and dozens of media tweeted his every word to an eager Penn State fan base and a national audience.
And, of course, the composition of O’Brien’s staff, while important, wasn’t the big story. It was how and why he was chosen to lead Penn State after the Sandusky scandal.
O’Brien’s Friday evening flight from Boston to State College was tracked online by media, and shortly after the plane landed at University Park Airport, photos started to show up on Twitter. The photos, taken in the dark, weren’t great—Jim Seip of the York Daily Record tweeted that he’d seen better definition in photos of Sasquatch.
Photographers got better shots Saturday before the new coach actually met the media; O’Brien’s 5-year-old son, Michael, (more…)
Let me start by saying that I have no idea whether Bill O’Brien will turn out to be the right coach for Penn State, and I’m certainly one of the people who knew him only as Guy Who Yelled at Tom Brady until recently. But while I was flipping through decades of old issues to gather nuggets for our 100th anniversary issue, I came across these paragraphs in the “Old Main Columns” department in the April 1966 issue:
The announcement of Rip Engle’s voluntary retirement was expressed through the radio and press on Friday morning, February 18. On that evening Rip was scheduled for an appearance at a dinner meeting of the Bucks County Penn State Club. Alumni in attendance were conscious of having been privileged to be with the popular Engle on a very special occasion and at a significant time in the coach’s life. The public was not to know officially of Joe Paterno’s appointment until Monday.
Rip was in a very light-hearted mood and willingly answered most of the questions put to him following his formal talk. However, he hesitated when some alumnus asked him about next season’s team. “I don’t think I should talk about that,” he replied, slowly. “You’ll be having Joe down here one of these days …” Realizing what he had said, Rip quickly continued, “Any more questions?” “Yes,” someone replied from the back of the room. “Who’s Joe?”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Weeks of rumors and dozens of names appeared to settle Thursday night on New England Patriots assistant coach Bill O’Brien, who, according to a pair of online reports, has agreed to be the next head coach of the Penn State football program.
As of early Friday morning, nothing had yet been confirmed by the University, but reports say O’Brien’s hiring could be announced as soon as Friday, and the new coach introduced Saturday. What seems certain is that, if he is the guy, O’Brien will have his work cut out to convince fans and disgruntled former players that he’s the right man for the job.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The strangest and saddest season in Penn State football history came to a close Monday with a lopsided loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. That leaves the coaching search, which figures to be finalized this month, and possibly as soon as the next few days — although, as we’ve stated, very few people have any idea when that decision will be made.
The only thing we do know is that literally dozens of names have been “reported” by various outlets as possible candidates. Among the names being taken most seriously in the new year: San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, New England Patriots’ quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien — whose hiring Jon Saraceno ’79 of USA Today reported as imminent just two days ago — Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, and, yes, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak ’82. Despite a public denial of interest in returning to his alma mater, Munchak (pictured), whose Titans were eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend, is rumored to be considering the job.
The New York Times has an interesting take on the uncertainty surrounding the search, summing up a growing consensus: “Who will the next coach of the Nittany Lions be? No one is sure. Maybe not even Penn State.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor