Would Bill O’Brien’s Departure Cripple Penn State?

Penn State has had a very difficult time recovering from the scandal and sanctions that began in 2011.  Bill O'Brien became the first head coach hired by the school in more than a generation and seemed determined to stick it out in State College after a better than expected 8-4 first season gave him opportunities to depart.  This season's 7-5 run was good enough to keep him a hot commodity.  Now it sounds as though he might leave for an NFL head coaching gig with the Houston Texans.  What would that mean for the Nittany Lions?


Future Prospects with O'Brien
The schedule seemed to position Penn State for another 8-4ish kind of year.  While perhaps not a glorious notion, not a terrible on either given the constraints on the program.  From there, 8 or 9 win seasons (with perhaps a tenth coming in a bowl) seemed attainable as the program could pull itself out from under the penalties imposed on it.  The bigger question might be whether O'Brien thought he'd be able to win the East division having to go through Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State every year (with Nebraska, Iowa, and/or Wisconsin thrown in every now and again as additional obstacles).  In some ways, the scholarship restrictions might be felt to some degree all the way up until 2018 or 2019.  Would Nittany Lions fans have remained patient with O'Brien for that long if he keeps finishing between second and fourth place?

Prospects with Greg Schiano, James Franklin, or Mike Munchak
With any coaching change usually comes turnover.  If a new coach comes in, you'd expect an uptick in transfers out of State College.  That would be tough on a program already under scholarship restrictions through the 2015 season.  Then comes an at least one-year adaptation period for players to get accustomed to new coaches, schemes, and terminology.  Their prior experience would continue to have some value, but their mastery would be limited compared to more seasoned competition.  Any of those top names brought in would have to do everything right just to get back to an 8-win plateau.  Chances are they'd do worse (initially) which would get them off on the wrong foot with fans and players alike.  Culturally, experiencing four head coaches (including the interim coach in 2011) in four years can't be good for a program that was once a model of stability either.

Whomever Penn State hires should reports of O'Brien's departure prove true, had better be more committed to the school than O'Brien had been.  That would make Munchak look like a good choice since he's an alumnus of the school.  But none of these coaches seem like a lock to surpass Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio, or whomever is coaching at Michigan in the coming years.  Keeping O'Brien might have been their best (and perhaps only) hope.     

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Comments 7 comments so far

No, Bill O’Brien’s departure would not cripple Penn State; but he may regret leaving.

Although the worst kind of crime happened at Penn State, Penn State’s football program will recover, and has not suffered from a recruiting shortage.  Players still want to come to Penn State.  Penn State will be successful again.

Penn State pays him $3,300,000 annually, fourth highest in the B1G Conference.

Gary Kubiak was paid $3,000,000 annually by Houston.  Will they pay more for O’Brien?  Maybe.

Making the jump to the pros from college has not always been fruitful for successful coaches.  Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier come to mind.  Both of these coaches are light-years ahead of Bill O’Brien and they didn’t do well at the next level.

O’Brien should stay where he is.  If he manages to turn around the Penn State program and produce a winner, then his NFL stock will go up and he may compete for a better job than the one at Houston.

But his leaving won’t cripple Penn State.  Not at all.

Would Bill O’Brien’s Departure Cripple Penn State?

I think, for sure.  I think the guy has done an unbelievable job in the face of historic challenges. 

New coach, no matter how talented, will mean a transition period, new offense, new defense, and just everything new.  It takes a while.  Guys like Hackenburg came to Penn St because of BOB.  Transfers are likely.

That program needs stability, if nothing else.  A coaching change = instability.

That said, I think he’s gone to the NFL.  Hopefully the Browns will get him.  :)

Who, in their right mind, would want to live in an isolated place called “Happy Valley?”  That’s creep in and of itself.  You’d be nuts not to take a chance to get the heck out of creepyville, PA, and live/work in the real civilized world.  Northern PA is somewhat like W Va.  Stray off the beaten path and watch out for strangers.  Can be dangerous, for sure.

One of our Branch Managers went to PSU on a gymnastics scholarship back in the ‘90’s. He did some caving in his spare time. He liked it there but did transfer back here to NU after a year or two when he got the opportunity.

We have a kid living in Ct so have driven across Pa on I-80 a couple times now. Pretty country. I’m sure there is a few hillbillies living in those woods. But hey—PSU was a big brand name before they got swallowed up by the B1G. I’m sure there is plenty of coaches that would love the opportunity to coach there and lots of kids that want to play for them.

Gage, I too lived in that part of the county, i.e., West VA and Western PA many moons ago.  Tough terrain and lots of valleys where no man dare wander into.  Enough said about those isolated folks.  There are quality of life issues, or opportunities, some coaches take into consideration when considering a job, unless you have no family and want to just hole up and save your salary.

I am sure Bill O’Brien will end up in a more inviting city than College Station.  Besides, it still creeps me out that child molestation was going on in the showers with a PS former coach.  Yuck.  Give O’Brien credit for putting in the time these past two years and maybe helping salvage the FB program.  He’s earned a right to find more righteous ground.

I wouldn’t be worried about player defections. They’ll bring in a guy who’ll have an NFL style offense installed and that’ll be that.
Maybe they’ll go the fired NFL guy route, but Franklin seems like a good choice. Don’t feel like searching it, but scouting O’Brien from the Pats in the first place, was an intriguing move. Psu must’ve gotten a recommendation about him.
As far as trying to beat out the big meanies, hey, it’s a tough neighborhood to walk through, on the way home from school.

Really, this just reminds me that Nebraska did pretty well, it’s first couple of years, in “Bluto’s” conference.

Maybe PSU will hire Macky B, NOOOOOOO!!!

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