As Bill O’Brien Might Say, “Next Man Up.”
One year ago, almost to the day, dozens of media members sat in the Beaver Stadium press room listening to Bill O’Brien explain—and, to an extent, defend—his interest in NFL jobs before finally reconfirming his commitment to Penn State. As I wrote at the time, O’Brien “hasn’t—and at this point, clearly won’t—put an end date on that commitment.”
On Thursday, Athletic Director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g sat in front of a slightly smaller group of media to confirm that O’Brien was resigning his post to take the same position with the NFL’s Houston Texans. You can read the university’s official statement on the search for O’Brien’s replacement here, but here’s the takeaway:
* A national search for O’Brien’s successor is already underway. The six-person search committee is led by Joyner and includes VP of administration Tom Poole ’84g, associate AD Charmelle Green, recreation, park and tourism management professor and faculty athletics representative Linda Caldwell, men’s soccer coach Bob Warming, and Football Letterman’s Club director Wally Richardson ’96, ’03g.
* Long-time defensive line coach Larry Johnson, now the only holdover from Joe Paterno’s staff, is leading the program on an interim basis.
* Emphasizing that he hopes for a quick resolution to the search, Joyner said the “atmosphere of this search is very different, much more attractive” than the drawn-out process that led to O’Brien’s hiring two years ago. “We were very deliberate then,” Joyner said. “We’re going to be deliberate this time, but much faster.”
* Joyner said Penn State has already been contacted by potential candidates or their representatives. “We have a tremendous amount of interest in this position,” he said, adding that there would be no official comment on potential candidates during the search process.
* Of O’Brien, Joyner was consistently complimentary. “I want to emphasize how happy we are for Coach O’Brien and this tremendous opportunity for him, and that we’re extremely grateful for the past two years,” Joyner said. He said he believed O’Brien came to Penn State with plans for a longer tenure—”We always worked on the future … things we could do to improve our program”—and that the coach “always had Penn State’s bests interests at heart.” Ultimately, Joyner said that while he believed Penn State made “every effort to make it attractive for him to stay … I believe he was presented with an opportunity that, for his family and his future, he just could not pass up.”
* Asked if he was hoping to find a coach who was likely to stick around beyond two seasons, Joyner said, “I think that’ll be very important. Consistency is important.”
* Joyner said that while a Penn State connection isn’t a prerequisite, it’s a factor the search committee would consider.
Here’s to a quick, thorough, and successful search.
Ryan Jones, senior editor