Bill O’Brien got tired of the ‘Joe Paterno people’ at Penn State
Bill O’Brien did all that he could and then some with a Penn State program that was reeling in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator compiled a 15-9 record through two seasons with a program that was banned from postseason play and stripped of several scholarships. So why did he leave?
For starters, O’Brien enjoys coaching at the professional level. That became even more obvious about a month ago, when O’Brien vented to David Jones of PennLive.com after longtime Penn State assistant coach Ron Vanderlinden left the program. O’Brien was asked if he was worried that the departure of Vanderlinden — a Paterno hire — would be met with resistance. He unloaded with a series of powerful quotes that Jones chose not to print until this week.
“You can print this: You can print that I don’t really give a s— what the ‘Paterno people’ think about what I do with this program,” O’Brien said. “I’ve done everything I can to show respect to Coach Paterno. Everything in my power. So I could really care less about what the Paterno faction of people, or whatever you call them, think about what I do with the program. I’m tired of it.
“For any ‘Paterno person’ to have any objection to what I’m doing, it makes me wanna put my fist through this windshield right now.”
O’Brien then went off about how he had been accused of making excuses every time he reminded folks that he is doing the best he can with a program that essentially faced the death penalty.
“I’m trying to field the most competitive football team I can with near-death penalty f—ing sanctions,” he said. “Every time I say something like that and somebody prints it, it’s skewed as an excuse. And I’m not an excuse-maker. I’m trying to do the best I can for the kids in that program. That’s all I care about is the kids in that program. As long as I’m the head football coach here.”
O’Brien also told Jones that Penn State would be “f—ing looking for a new coach” in about a month. That conversation took place on Dec. 4, and O’Brien became the head coach of the Houston Texans on Dec. 31. Coincidence? I highly doubt it.
It’s hard enough to deal with university politics when you are taking the place of a legend who is worshipped by thousands. When you add the Sandusky scandal and the sanctions it brought into the mix, O’Brien probably had one of the toughest jobs in sports for two years. I’m sure the way he handled it helped him land an NFL head coaching gig.