Bill O'Brien to Penn State: 3 Reasons It'll Be a Long Road Back for Him and PSU
Reports have been circulating the past week about Penn State’s head coaching search but it appears to finally be coming to a close. According to ESPN sources, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will take over in Happy Valley.
If this is true, it’s certainly not an ideal hire, but a decent one given everything that has transpired this past year. Hopefully Nittany Lions fans don’t expect him to be an overnight success.
Here are three reasons why it will be a long road back to prominence for PSU.
He’s Never Been a Head Coach
If there was ever a situation that required some type of head coaching experience, it would be the one at Penn State.
The putrid stink of the Jerry Sandusky trial leaves the team not wanting to play as evidenced by the bowl game, recruits not wanting to come in and the media not wanting to talk about the actual play on the field.
O’Brien has never been a head coach at any university and was just promoted to offensive coordinator for the Patriots this year. Call me a pessimist if you want, but he just doesn’t have a resume that indicates he can handle everything that comes with this specific job.
Penn State has made a name for itself because of its defense. It is widely considered “Linebacker U”, and the defense was at least three times better than the offense this year.
Hiring an NFL offensive coordinator who hasn’t coached anyone on defense since 1994 at Brown is a complete makeover that is a high-risk, high-reward move.
You cannot do well in the Big Ten without a stout defense so O’Brien will need to make a slam-dunk hire for defensive coordinator in order to continue having success.
No Connection to Penn State
Some people wanted a complete makeover from top to bottom of the football program, but the team’s head coach has to have a vested interest in the university, especially given the circumstances surrounding the team.
If O’Brien really has been hired, it reeks of him just wanting a chance at a high-profile head coaching job, not Penn State in particular.
Could the search committee have found a guy who they know would personally want to resurrect the program and make Happy Valley happy once again? One would think so, but considering the amount of time it took them, maybe this was the best they could do.
At the end of the day, this is a pretty good hire but Penn State will need to put all of their eggs in the O’Brien basket because success won’t come overnight for a guy with no head coaching experience, no connection to the university and has a background completely against what the football program was built on.