In another town, he might be welcomed with open arms, greeted like a colonial from Pennsylvania and accepted to fill the role as the next head coach. But more likely someone inexperienced, especially when it’s a school like Penn State which is largely about prestige and preeminence with one of the top-notch football programs in the nation, won’t qualify for what could be a tough assignment.

Whataya say, schools like Princeton or Harvard? Would he be accepted by the masses?

Probably so.

If he were hired by a university with no stature, where the magnitude of academics is more often the focus, Bill O’Brien would not be stuck in a swirling controversy on whether he’s suited for the Penn State coaching job. He’s not perfect for the place, and angry alumni and fans are resentful over the hiring of O’Brien, currently the New England Patriots offensive coordinator through the playoffs.

It certainly has been an existence of resentment and outrage for such a well-respected program now in the middle of a long-suffering sex scandal that has left Penn State in ruins. The wailing from the large population in State College, a baffled community that feels betrayed and beguiled, is bringing much curiosity which is springing from maddening criticism.

Why must Penn State hire someone who doesn’t have any ties with the university … when it has been in turbulence?

It’s an interesting choice, and leaves many in Happy Valley furious, disgusted and critical of the hiring, a replacement for Joe Paterno — a man with more Division I wins than any coach in NCAA history. It’s not easy replacing a legend, but then this time Penn State chose to bring in someone with no college head coaching experience, equivalent to when Charlie Weis landed the Notre Dame job a few years ago. He had done well in his first two seasons with back-to-back BCS appearances, but Weis eventually became a disappointment by finishing so miserably, going 16-21 his final three years to finally be terminated.

It should surprise no one that everyone in Penn State white is so emotional, without having any knowledge on what the university’s intentions are as far as bringing in a new coach, hours after O’Brien reportedly had agreed to become the next Penn State head coach – filling the footsteps of JoePa, the moral compass and ambassador in a town where he had led the Nittany Lions for the past half century.

The anger, judging that Penn State insisted it had no leading candidates in its two-month coaching search evidently, is boiling for a dormant program and fans are ill-tempered with the aspect of the problem that interim coach Tom Bradley likely won’t be back next season.

He’s a clear choice for many, as alumni and fans prefer to support and rally behind him. Before he had taken over, Paterno was extremely beloved, like Ben Franklin was well-liked for his fame and cleverness, but not enough to have his face feature on $100 bills.

The state watched as Bradley strolled in and took over, respectfully, for the fired Paterno, and ever since then, the folks in Happy Valley were begging for him to stay not fascinated with the university employing an outsider that knows nothing about the program and have no connections, a non-alumni who has no familiarity with Penn State.

Consider it a bad hiring for a critical LaVar Arrington, the former Penn State linebacker who has been harshly verbal and vented his rage to BlueWhite Illustrated prior to the news that surfaced on O’Brien being selected.

“I will put my Butkus (Award) in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage.” Arrington said. “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.”

In the light of most recent judgments, Brandon Short, another former PSU linebacker, shared his extreme unhappiness and took a hard stance as well. What he believes, despite the conspiracy of the foundation, is that the university should hire a football coach with ties to the program simply because he feels it is the school’s standard.

“Penn State is a family and it is real and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then they’ve turned their backs on our entire family,” Short said.

And if people are mad in the process of Penn State’s coaching search, so be it. This is the latest issue in headline news, and it’s not because of the scandal but mainly for centering a man with no coaching experience and one season spent as an offensive coordinator in the NFL.

If fans refuse to believe in his potential capacity, along with his fiery attitude at least from what it seemed during a shouting match with New England quarterback Tom Brady, it’s because he was 1-22 as the offensive coordinator at Duke, it’s because he’ll lead a demanding program with heavy expectations and it’s because he played and coached in the Ivy League.

It’s hard to tell whether the hiring of O’Brien as the man to succeed the winningest coach in college football history is fulfilling, and he may not fail like the rest of Bill Belichick’s coaching tryouts from Weis to Romeo Crennel to Josh McDaniels. The new coach, welcomed to the Penn State family tree, could be the best successor behind Paterno and may turn out to be the next Gene Chizik at Auburn or Frank Haith at Missouri.

You never know.

Right now, the folks are jumping to conclusion of premature announcements. This is understandable, considering the fact that he’s never coached a college football team but worked under one of the clever-minded coaches, a genius at the game and in the NFL. With so much uncertainty, as Jerry Sandusky caused the acclaimed program to implode happening under Paterno’s watch, he can prove us wrong and lead the Nittany Lions after all.

But as far as it looks, Penn State fans have given us every reason to doubt O’Brien, unsatisfied at this point when the university is a disaster, for the most part by the infamous Sandusky sex scandal. They can try to cut ties with the Penn State family and remove traces of the current staff as a way to repair an image.

Then again, if you saw how Bradley brought the team together that diminished plenty of adversity from the tawdry allegations, only making us sick to our stomachs and feeling sorry for Sandusky’s victims, you realized he might be the perfect candidate for the job.

That’s not the way Penn State views it.

What is certainly upsetting is how the coaching search deceived the vast majority at Penn State, expecting more and the hiring of someone who actually had ties with the school. But, goodness, if a school is not willing to give assistant coaches a chance, then it turns into a chaotic situation and leave students and alumni questioning the hire when a number of coaches had not done anything wrong.

At 42, O’Brien, a native from Boston, must adapt to the college ranks and translate from the pros, which is his toughest challenge at this point. He is, from the start, going to have to recruit sharply while on a journey to win a Super Bowl in New England where he is on pace to reach that peak. So basically, he is working two jobs and has no choice but to bear with the tension and stress of trying to balance both assignments all at once.

If O’Brien is already being doubted, maybe it’s for his awful track record under Belichick at Foxborough. In O’Brien’s mind, he is smart for putting together a variety of innovative styles on offense and it could be that he has Brady. In our minds, it remains to be seen, an argument that appears unknown until he officially become the next coach and actually debut.

It has been more often about tradition, excellent recruiting and family ties, but suddenly Penn State is taking a different direction and fans are hostile and indifferent, disapproving the pledge made verbally to O’Brien. If there weren’t any consequences involved for the university’s failure to report Sandusky’s alleged molestation, ex-president Graham Spanier wouldn’t be out of a job and Paterno still would be serving as Penn State longtime coach.

It is awfully difficult to believe in acting athletic director Dave Joyner, searching for a coach and finding someone with no realization and exposure in the college ranks. The committee, Joyner’s people, may have done the right or wrong thing, even if Penn State hired a former assistant without ties.

The fans are not too happy by O’Brien coming to Happy Valley, but it seems to be realistic that breaks off a branch from PSU’s family tree.


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