I haven't been exactly mum regarding PSU's new football coach (on Facebook/Twitter) - but I haven't posted anything here - until now.
I have a lot of opinions about Penn State, and the last 2 months, and the coaching search - but this (and, I'm thinking, subsequent posts) is about O'Brien and his proposed staff.
Bill O'Brien comes to us - well, he's not exactly here yet - from the New England Patriots. He is currently, I say currently, because he is not going to leave the Patriots until they are finished with the playoffs, the Offensive Coordinator for the Patriots - and has worked for them for the last 5 seasons.
I'm not thrilled that he's staying with the Pats, especially because there's less than a month before signing day, but this really isn't my biggest concern with O'brien's resume and/or choices.
O'brien is a Brown grad - whoa JVP clone - and he's spent time coaching at his alma mater, Duke and Maryland. Interesting? maybe. Thrilling? no. Promising? don't know yet. And then you add his longest coaching job - working for George O'Leary at Georgia Tech.
George O'Leary gained steadfast infamy in 2001, when he was hired by Notre Dame University - which is enough to insure one's place, good or bad, in the hallowed halls of college football fame - but O'Leary never coached a game - in fact he didn't last a week, because, within 5 days it was discovered that he had (for years) lied on his resume regarding his education and playing career. The embarrassing fallout cost him his job, and, frankly, put ND in a bit of a tailspin for years. During those 5 days, however, he did have a chance to name an offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien.
Embarrassing, no doubt, but, come one - let's not blame the soldier for the general's mistake - right?
Well, that's not the only mistake.
While at GT, O'Leary, and, subsequently, O'Brien, played ineligible athletes - resulting in NCAA sanctions and probation. O'Leary and the school claimed that all of the ineligible players were fielded due to clerical error - that the registrar did not properly report the credits of players - 11 in total. The inquiry and sanctions hit GT after O'Leary left. Wow. Relying on admin to know what's going on with your players grades, and class credits? Over 6 years? Okay, fine - mistakes happen.
But O'Leary's troubles haven't ended there - after not working for the Irish, O'Leary spent a few seasons coaching for the Vikings, until 2004, when he returned to college ball and took the job at upstart University of Central Florida. Since taking the job, UCF has been put on probation for recruiting violations and there was the unbelievably tragic case of Ereck Plancher. Plancher died following a practice drill - in a resulting wrongful death suit, UCF, and O'Leary were found to be negligent.
So, okay, get over it - O'Leary (who still works for UCF) is an energetic coach who turns teams around and gets results on the field! - And anyway, it's O'Brien that we hired, not O'Leary - and it's not like he's hiring a bunch of other O'Leary protégée - right? right?
Including O'Brien 5 new coaches have worked for O'Leary (more on them later).
And regardless of their success, enthusiasm, pedigree, WHATEVER - and regardless of what, if any, part they have played in the black cloud that follows O'Leary - it's the fact that NO ONE has mentioned this connection - NO ONE has commented or said "oh, we learned from mistakes" - I'm not asking for a lot - it's just as we Penn Staters weather this storm and travel this new road - what we have learned is that secrecy doesn't work and ignoring problems doesn't make them go away. We have been clinging to the idea that we can salvage our reputation with a clean new crew and attitude - So what the hooha is going on??????
I want to move on (no really - I do!!) - I want PSU to be successful sweet and special - it's just going to take me a while to get on the O'Brien bandwagon.