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Penn State to Hire New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien as New Head Coach

Bill O'Brien to be named Penn State head coach.
Elsa, Getty Images

Penn State is preparing to turn at least one page in the darkest chapter in school history, as ESPN reports the school has chosen New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien as the Nittany Lions’ new head coach.

The official announcement is expected to come Saturday, but sources report that the deal is done and that O’Brien will officially resume his new role as soon as the Patriots season is over.

This will be O’Brien’s first head coaching job. He has been a Patriots assistant since 2007. Prior to that, he spent 14 seasons in the college ranks at Duke, Maryland and Georgia Tech. Running O’Brien’s offense, the Patriots closed the season on an eight-game winning streak. They rank third in the NFL in scoring  and second in total offense.

O’Brien takes over a Penn State program still reeling from the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the university.  Legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired in November for failing to adequately report allegations that former PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused young boys.  Paterno coached the Nittany Lions for 46 seasons and left as the winningest coach in football history with 409 wins.

O’Brien has never coached or played at Penn State, and the reaction by many former Nittany Lion players has been less than enthusiastic. Representatives from the influential Lettermen’s Club (composed of former PSU players) reportedly have scheduled a meeting with interim athletic director Dave Joyner Friday afternoon to express their concerns that defensive coordinator/interim head coach Tom Bradley or another coach with connections to the Penn State program was not given more serious consideration for the position.

Brandon Short, a former All-American linebacker and a member of the Lettermen’s Club, didn’t mince words, bluntly stating, “[O’Brien] doesn’t have the support of the vast majority of former Penn State players and the vast majority of the student body and the faculty won’t support him…It appears as if it is Dave Joyner’s intent to disassociate himself with everything related to Penn State. Then a group of former players will now disassociate ourselves from everything related to Penn State.”

Short said some former players were so upset, they were even considering going so far as to ask current players to transfer and recruits to de-commit. They are also discussing legal action to prohibit the university from using their names or likenesses for marketing purposes.

In a separate statement on Twitter, former All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington said, “I’m done. All my PSU stuff will be be down before O’Brien’s introduction! We are! No more for me!”


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