It's about 99.9 percent official, according to ESPN's Chris Mortenson, that Bill O'Brien is the new head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. O'Brien, who is the current offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, is now taking his talents to the world of college football.
So, is Bill O'Brien a good fit for Penn State? Is he the coach that Penn State needs? Will he be able to recruit high-profile athletes at Penn State? Will O'Brien's NFL coaching mindset translate in the world of college football?
I'm about to answer every single one of those questions for you, so sit back, relax and read on.
O'Brien is, without a doubt, the head coach that Penn State needs. Penn State needed a coach with absolutely no history with Penn State, no prior coaching or playing experience at the university and a fresh perspective on what the Penn State football program can look like in the next few years.
Good news for Penn State; they got just that guy with the hiring of Bill O'Brien.
First of all, O'Brien will bring a fresh perspective to a storied football program that is in desperate need of a serious makeover. Offensively speaking, O'Brien knows what it takes to put together winning teams, and at the elite NFL level at that.
O'Brien has been with the Patriots since 2007, which means he was with them during their 2007 Super Bowl run and undefeated regular season, and their recent playoff appearances in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, as the Patriots' offensive coordinator, O'Brien coached the Patriots' offense to a second overall ranking in the entire NFL, averaging 428.0 yards (317.8 passing) and 31.2 points per game.
It's refreshing, as a Penn State alumni and fan, to know that Penn State's new coach understands how to fit players into an offense that is focused on high-end production. Sure, it will take time for O'Brien to implement a new offense and a new focus within the Penn State football program, but it is for sure something that Penn State desperately needs.
Next on the list of topics is whether or not O'Brien will be able to recruit the four- and five-star talent that has eluded Penn State for so long, and the answer to that is a resounding yes.
To most high school recruits, the main appeal of any university is whether or not it can get that player's exposure and whether or not the coaching staff will be able to help the player grow, mature and ultimately make it to the next level.
With O'Brien as the main recruiter for Penn State, he will be able to attract recruits by guaranteeing just that: next-level success and exposure. O'Brien has coached—specifically from 2009-10 as the Patriots' quarterback coach—one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks of the past decade in Tom Brady, and recruits, especially at key offensive positions, will salivate at the possibility of playing for a coach with direct ties to such a great player and team.
In 2008, as the Patriots' wide receivers coach, O'Brien worked day in and day out with talent like Randy Moss and Wes Welker, something that recruits will absolutely love.
I know that having coached elite NFL talent doesn't guarantee success in college football, as evidenced by a man named Charlie Weiss, but it does give Penn State a much needed recruiting edge heading into the next few years. Having the ability to say, "Just last year, I was coaching and calling plays for Tom Brady" will undoubtedly have an impact on young college recruits.
More important than recruiting and being able to bring a fresh offensive perspective to Penn State is whether or not O'Brien will be able to rebuild a beaten and battered Penn State football program.
While only time will tell if he can or not, I think the fact that he is completely disconnected from Penn State prior to his hiring as head coach is a major plus for Penn State and its rebuilding process.
If Penn State had hired Tom Bradley or even Mike Munchak, both of whom played under Joe Paterno at Penn State, it would have been difficult to separate them from the history of what is alleged to have occurred at Penn State, simply because that is what the media does.
The passion that Bradley and/or Munchak would've had for restoring Penn State's image could have been a detriment to the university, because when people are overly passionate about something at times, they don't think realistically about what they are doing.
O'Brien, on the other hand, surely understands the significance of the situation he is walking into, and he understands what he must do, in conjunction with the entire university, to help rebuild the football program. And he will do so with a realistic mindset.
Bill O'Brien is the perfect fit for Penn State on many levels. He is a coach who has recent experience with extremely successful NFL players. O'Brien knows how to win games, and win with offense, which is something Penn State hasn't been able to do in the past few years.
Most importantly, O'Brien is a low-profile coach, who won't draw much attention to himself, rather reflecting attention onto the rebuilding of a university and a football program that has recently seen its darkest days.
O'Brien is the coach that Penn State needs, a coach that will lead with integrity, recruit with veracity and coach with leadership rooted in his ability to win.
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