The news that Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has accepted the Penn State head coach position has been met with some tough commentary, especially from Penn State alums.
Most of the criticism is focused on O’Brien’s lack of connections to Penn State. The harshest is from former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington, who commented to BlueWhite Illustrated prior to news emerging that O’Brien was the pick.
“I will put my Butkus (Award) in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage,” Arrington said. “Jerseys, anything Penn State, in storage. Wherever [interim coach] Tom Bradley goes, that’s the school I will start to put memorabilia up in my home. I’m done. I’m done with Penn State. If they’re done with us, I’m done with them.”
Beyond dealing with the negative perception surrounding the school because of its child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, O’Brien faces the added challenge of being “the man who replaces the man” at Penn State. Joe Paterno, who had coached the Nittany Lions since 1966, was fired in November.
Former All-American linebacker Brandon Short was also critical of the choice.
“I don’t want to be affiliated with the university if they don’t choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important… it’s no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC,” he said.
Short told USA Today that three members of the Lettermen’s Club, a football alumni group, have scheduled a meeting today with Penn State interim athletic director Dave Joyner, who headed the search committee for a new coach.
“There is a tangible standard at Penn State that this poor guy [O’Brien] knows nothing about. I feel badly for him, he is clueless and will not have the support of the majority of the Lettermen. This is a hornet’s nest for him,” Short said.
Penn State had difficulty filling the job, and its pursuit of more high-profile coaches such as Boise State’s Chris Petersen and the Tennessee Titans’ Mike Munchak was not successful.
“It just doesn’t do anything for me,” ESPN analyst and former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge said this morning on SportsCenter, adding he doesn’t know O’Brien and would reserve judgment about his coaching ability.
“Most coaches get a honeymoon period. It doesn’t sound like he’s getting one with the Penn State people,” former Notre Dame coach and current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz said.