Attention readers, grains of salt may be found in the entry way and may be taken as needed/desired.
First of all I want to say that I have been an advocate of a coaching overhaul for years (many years) and even with the upheaval of November, ignoring any pangs of regret and nostalgia, it has been very clear to me that, regardless of what fans, alum, lettermen, I may have wanted or hoped for, PSU had really no choice but to bring in a totally new staff.
O'Brien has retained Larry Johnson, Sr. as Defensive Line coach and Ron Vanderlinden as Linebacker coach. I'm pleased to see these two remain at PSU - I think they are exceptionally talented coaches and I look forward to their continued success. He has also kept Strength and Conditioning Coach John Thomas.
So let's get started -
First, there's Tight End coach John Strollo, who currently coaches O line for Ball State - a position he's held for 1 season. I don't really have any beef with Strollo, except that his resume is devoid of FBS experience, except for 3 seasons at Duke and this 1 season at Ball State. And, in the last 31 years, he's worked at 11 different schools - his longest tenure (81-82 and 84-90) being at Northeastern.
Next - Charles London, running backs. London played college ball at Duke and, after a number of years working in front offices (including event planning for Disney Wide World of Sports) he took a job as assistant for the Chicago Bears and then (look for a pattern) last season he moved to the Tennessee Titans where he served as Offensive Assistant/Quality Control coach.
Let's move on to John Butler - oh John Butler - if this works out, you are destined to be my favorite - consider yourself warned. Butler (gotta love the name) will coach Dbacks (fav players too). I would/should put Butler at the end - but I'm going to try and be optimistic (this will make more sense later). Butler got his coaching start in 2001, at SouthWestern State, and has spent time at Harvard and Minnesota. And, (all together now) since 2011, he has worked at South Carolina (eep! Steve Spurrier) as Special Teams Coordinator - BUT DON'T WORRY - he coached d-backs at South Western State. Still cute.
And that takes us to the remaining assistant coaches - Mac McWhorter, offensive line, Stan Hixon, Wide Receivers, George Godsey, quarterbacks and Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator.
All of these gentlemen have one thing in common - they have worked for George O'Leary (he's baaaaaack).
McWhorter, who played for Georgia, has been coaching college ball since 1980 - spending time at a lot of prestigious schools, including Bama, Clemson, UGA and most recently at Texas - he has coached the Longhorns' line since 2002. But from 2000 - 2001 he worked at Georgia Tech, for and with George O'Leary - and he stepped in as GT's head coach (after O'Leary left) for their 2001 bowl game.
Stan Hixon, PSU's new wide receivers coach left the college football scene in 2004 to work for the Washington Redskins and has worked for the Buffalo Bills since 2010. Hixon spent some time in FCS in the 1980s, but later took gigs at South Carolina and Wake Forest - before he went to work at Georgia Tech in 1995 where he worked for O'Leary through the 1999 season (when he left to go to LSU).
George Godsey never worked at Georgia Tech! but he played there - for George O'Leary. AND he worked for O'Leary down at UCF from 2004 - 2010. He worked as an offensive assistant (focusing on quarterbacks!) for the Patriots - for the 2011 season. He is our new quarterbacks coach.
And finally, Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator - this is the one hire that most people have some concerns about - his resume is impressive - National Championship at Auburn, working for Alabama and Minnesota; but it's the actual performance of his squads that have most fans worried. He was at Minnesota for 1 season 2008 (was there with Butler) - Which is indicative of his career, having worked for 11, now 12 teams in the last 25 years. AND from 1998 - 2001 he worked at Georgia Tech. And he was slated to move with O'Leary to Notre Dame (he went to Duke instead - wait, who else went to Duke?). Roof worked for Auburn 2009 - 2011 but at the end of the season (okay 1 month ago) he was relieved of his duties - on his way to being Penn State's DC he made one quick stop - he was hired as UCF's DC - for one month.
I want to stop typing George O'Leary - and maybe if someone would just address this issue - please please please - just explain why you're reassembling your former boss/mentor's staff? I realize that these are people with whom O'Brien worked over the years - I do, I get it - but just a quick - even a canned, patronizing answer - that's all I want.
Or maybe this is all just payback for all those times PSU beat Syracuse ...
It came down to the final game - both ILOVEPSUTOO and PSUgirl finished the contest 23/35 (65+% - not too shabby) and AMANDAKT finished a remarkably close 2nd (or 3rd) with 22/35.
TAILGATEMAVEN, who remained consistently awesome, valiantly finished.
So, since the whole idea behind the picks is bias - I, as holder and distributor of the (for entertainment only) prizes, am exercising total subjectivity and declaring ILOVEPSUTOO the winner - and soon to be recipient of a resplendent PSU licensed blanket with sleeves (by soon, she and I both know that, I probably mean Blue White).
Further! I am bumping AMANDAKT up to 2nd place (I'm biasedly demoting myself to participant).
We were considering a cage match coloring and haiku competition -
but schedules and the
lack of cages resulted
in a change of plans
Thanks to all the gals for participating in one of my favorite traditions - can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!
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.
Texas A&M v Northwestern
Uh oh - better call... I mean Aggies won 33 - 22, them and whoever took the "over" on the Dan Persa mentions.
Georgia Tech v Utah
So, Urban Meyer's former employer beat O'Brien's former employer - color me shocked. Utes win 30 - 27.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
UCLA v Illinois
There was just so much wrong with this match-up. But Illinois was able to eke out a winning season - Ill 20 UCLA 14
Cincinnati v Vanderbilt
Close game, but Cincy came out on top. I'm sure that Nick Lachey is thrilled. Bearcats win 31 - 24.
Virginia v Auburn
War eagle came out with a vengeance - Auburn wins big 43 - 24.
Ticket City Bowl
Penn State v Houston
Do we even have to do this one? Everything that couldn't happen did - Cougars win 30 - 14 (it wasn't that close).
Capital One Bowl
South Carolina v Nebraska
Oops. Prolly shoulda gone with Sparty, eh Cap One? Gamecocks win 30 - 13.
Ohio State v Florida
Gators clip the horse chestnuts 24 - 17
Michigan State v Georgia
Needed 3 overtimes, in one of the better bowl games of the season, but Sparty outlasted the Dawgs 33 - 30.
Oregon v Wisconsin
Wow, another close, defense optional game. Badgers had the (albeit slight) edge for most of the game - but not at the end. Ducks win 45 - 38.
Okla State v Stanford
Probably my favorite game of the BS - Pokes tied the game late in the 4th (although most thought it might not be late enough), and they won in overtime, 41 - 38.
Michigan v Virginia Tech
Proving that UM gets the calls no matter where they go - Michigan wins 23 - 20.
West Virginia v Clemson
This one was soooo LOLZ I almost forgot about the TCbowl, almost. Proving (to me) that old grudges aren't always good to keep - WVU pulverizing Clemson 70 - 33. And really, it wasn't that close.
Arkansas v Kansas State
Razorbacks win and we have a new points leader!!!
SMU v Pittsburgh
Mustangs stampede the panthers. SMU wins 28 - 6. Remember the 5.
Just 2 games left, and Dena is guaranteed a 1st place finish but we'll have to wait for the Championship game to see if she has company!
They say for every season there is a time for change. Change is something historically Penn Staters have not had to experience or handled well when it does happen (see uniform changes).
However, change has been thrust upon us. Drastic changes we knew would come at some point, but not in this way. But we have a choice on how we go from here. We can accept our new Coach, trust him not to lead us in the wrong direction. Or we can resist.
I choose the former. I will not blindly follow, but I will give Coach a chance to earn my trust, as he asked. But to move forward, we must first say thanks to the man that makes this change so hard.
Thank you JoePa for showing all of us, both inside and outside the football family, what it means to be an honorable person. For showing us what words like dignity, integrity and pride mean. Thank you for showing us that there was a better, a right way, of doing things. Thank you for believing in us.
Thank you Joe!
And then things changed. Drastically. I don't know if it was Wednesday or Thursday night that week, but I started a new playlist of songs that just reflected my mood at the time - most where angsty or whiney songs - but they really meant something to me. We didn't play any music at the Nebraska tailgate (which, btw, was kickarse) - but I've been listening (and adding) to the playlist ever since.
Well, I'm in a kinda bitter and sad place right now. I'm trying (no really, I am) to work my way through what has happened to Penn State in the last 2 months - and while I don't really have any answers, I do have my iPod (shoutout to Tailgate Maven!).
Sample from Current Playlist "JVP" on shuffle:
"Another Nail in my Heart" Squeeze
"Never Tear Us Apart" INXS
"Better Man" Pearl Jam
"In My Life" Beatles
"Don't Answer Me" The Alan Parsons Project
"It's the End of the Road" Matt Goss
"This is the Day" The The
"By My Side" INXS
"You're the One" Petula Clark
"Mean" Taylor Swift
"Different Drum" Stone Poneys
"You Were Meant for Me" Jewel
"I Predict a Riot" Kaiser Chiefs
"Forever Young" Alphaville
"Bro Hymn" Pennywise
"Be True to Your School" Beach Boys
"All I Want is You" U2
"If I Can't Have You" Kim Wilde
"Pack Up" Eliza Doolittle
"The Boys of Fall" Kenny Chesney
"Come Back Song" Darius Rucker
"Don't Get Around Much Anymore" Nathalie Cole
"What Doesn't Kill You" Kelly Clarkson
"Don't Dream It's Over" Crowded House
"Bleeding Love" Leona Lewis
"If I Can Dream" Elvis Presley
"King of Wishful Thinking" Go West
"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" Pet Shop Boys
"I Want You Back" The Jackson Five
"Young Forever (feat. Mr. Hudson)" Jay-Z
"Forget You" Cee Lo
"A Little Respect" Erasure
"When You Where Young" Killers
"Hail to the Lion" Penn State Marching Blue Band
Thanks for listening.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Howdy y'all (man that is weird to say)!!!! I am having a blast here in Texas!
Just got back from the pep rally at the Cotton Bowl. It really hit me today when Coach Bradley was speaking that after tomorrow, Penn State football is going to be a lot different. All new staff, possibly new traditions.
What won't change though is our love for Penn State. We are a family. We will always be a family.
We Are Always Penn State!