New England Patriots OC Bill O'Brien to Be the Next Head Coach for Penn State

Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIJanuary 6, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 01:  Bill O'Brien of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline in the second half against the Buffalo Bills on January 1, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

In a deal that we all were anticipating, ESPN's Chris Mortensen has indicated that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will be named the next head coach at Penn State. 

It is expected that O'Brien will be officially named as the next head coach of the Nittany Lions this Saturday. 

The 42-year-old O'Brien has been with the New England Patriots since 2007 when he was an offensive assistant and ultimately worked his way up to being named the team's offensive coordinator in 2011. 

Prior to his time with New England, O'Brien took stops at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke, where he was either the offensive coordinator or an offensive position coach. 

The missing part to O'Brien's resume that may have many raising their eyebrows is that he has never held a head coaching job in his life—not at the NFL level, college or even high school. 

Despite that, O'Brien has had some major success with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots as his offense has ranked near the top of the league ever since he's been part of the staff and most recently had his team ranking at No. 2 this past season. 

As O'Brien is set to move on to Penn State, what's next for the Patriots?

Well for starters, O'Brien will likely not leave the Patriots immediately, as he will likely remain the team's offensive coordinator, much like when Charlie Weis was named Notre Dame's head coach back in 2004—the last time the Patriots had won a Super Bowl. 

Former Patriot linebacker and ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi recalled that Weis would take any of the given free time he had in that Super Bowl run to make phone calls regarding recruiting for the Fighting Irish—it's safe to expect the same out of O'Brien. 

With O'Brien ultimately leaving by the end of the season, what's the long-term solution for the Patriots as their offensive coordinator job has now been opened?

An easy educated guess would be that Josh McDaniels could return to New England; however, he is still under contract with the St. Louis Rams and I am not expecting the Rams to relieve him of his duties. 

It's definitely safe to assume that Belichick will not be changing the offensive system and could possibly look in-house if McDaniels does not become available. Some possible candidates could be tight ends coach Brian Ferentz and receivers coach Chad O'Shea.

With all of this happening in the midst of a Patriots playoff run, I do not assume Belichick to be on the look for a possible suitor anytime soon—as his team is the No. 1 seed in the AFC with the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. 


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