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Penn State With Tough Sell on Bill O’Brien

The long coaching search could be over, but to many this may not be good news. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to become the next head coach at Penn State, and that an official announcement will be made on Saturday.

The Massachusetts native attended Brown University, Joe Paterno’s alma mater, and played a brief time in the NFL in the early 1990s as a linebacker and defensive end for the Chicago Bears. O’Brien has been coaching since 1993, starting out as a tight ends coach with Brown and making had stops at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke before joining the Patriots in 2007. O’Brien has been Tom Brady’s quarterbacks coach since 2009.

In addition to Penn State, the Patriots granted permission to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars to interview O’Brien for the head coaching vacancy in their organization. O’Brien will stay on as offensive coordinator through the end of the season, which is just one reason why his hire will be a tough sell for those following Penn State.

If the Patriots have a long postseason run, New England has the top seed in the AFC playoffs, O’Brien could be occupied until as late as February 5, three days after national signing day. The idea is not to have a coach set in stone to save the Class of 2012 but to have a better long-term solution.

“I will put my Butkus (Award) in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage,” former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington said to Blue White Illustrated Thursday. “Jerseys, anything Penn State, in storage. Wherever 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.”

His sentiment was echoed by Brandon Short, who added “They are intent on turning it into a booster culture. Ira Lubert went out and purchased a national title with wrestling and he’s under the illusion that he can do that in football. Well, ask (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder about that.”

It was assumed by many that Penn State would make an outside hire following the firing of Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky situation. Many of the more desirable candidates dried up quickly on Penn State, with coaches saying they have no interest n the job and others agreeing to extensions in their current situation.

Hiring an NFL assistant coach, to many, will be an extremely tough sell to the fan base, and in this situation the school is hiring somebody who already is not 100% committed to the job if he is staying in his current position with the Patriots.

O’Brien may turn out to be a good coach, but he will have to prove it. Until he does, this will be one of the toughest sells for the school.


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