So, the reported brain child of PSU's new head coach, Bill O'Brien, the Penn State Coaching Caravan Tour kicked off yesterday with a lunch in Center City Philadelphia. The Caravan will be traveling for 9 days, making 18 stops to meet and greet with Alums and Fans.
Coach O'Brien will be on the whole tour, and will be, at different stops, joined by a variety of PSU athletic coaches. With O'Brien at the Philadelphia event were Field Hockey Head Coach Char Morett and Men's basketball coach, Pat Chambers.
With Morett's 25 year tenure eclipsing her fellow Caravaners combined experience ten-fold, she spoke first (of course this is why) - She mostly spoke about "Obie" and Chambers, complementing them and talking them up. She made one brief reference to Coach Paterno, but he was definitely not the subject of the day.
Once she sat down, the other speakers reminded us of how decorated she and her teams have been over the years, winning 5 conference championships and that she is a 2 time olympian herself.
Chambers was entertaining. He spoke about the team and the future. He played to the crowd, blostering up Penn State (as did all the speakers).
O'Brien spoke last. His message was mostly how honored he is to be coach and that while he's going to keep many of the traditions engrained in the Penn State Football system, he will be introducing many different "looks" on and off the field. He was pretty gracious through the speech (and questions) - as a head coach you need to be a politician too - and he did a decent job.
One of the new "traditions" he's going to introduce is having the team sing the Alma Mater after the games with the Blue Band - not sure of the logistics as the Blue Band is regularly on the field after games - but we'll see. Also, I would have suggested they sing "The Nittany Lion" (or at least the chorus) - but hey, that's just me.
The questions from the crowd after the speeches were mostly directed to O'Brien (some to Chambers) - they were rather tame - without much angst or reproach. It was a rah-rah event - so it makes sense.
Chambers and Morett did let us know that both Mens Basketball and Field Hockey will have games in Philadelphia this fall - so that's something to look out for.
After the lunch, I introduced myself to Kevin McGuire of the Examiner (and so many other sports news outlets) and Adam Taliafarro, who had both been in attendance.
Am I glad I went? Yes. Were any real questions answered? No. So I left the Doubletree Hotel in a reasonably good mood, but still hungry.
But, as I was waiting to make my trek back to the wilds of Northwest Philadelphia, the Coaching Caravan passed by for one last wave.