Bill O'Brien is getting into a big hornet's nest, taking the Penn State head coaching job once he finishes up the playoffs as New England's offensive coordinator. There is a bit of an echo of Rich Rodriguez coming on at Michigan, as O'Brien has no PSU ties. There is also a bit of a echo of Charlie Weis going from that same Patriot OC slot to Notre Dame.
RichRod lasted three years at Michigan and Weis managed to last five under the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. Weis was a Notre Dame alum, but most of his coaching experience had been at the pro level, possibly making him less effective coaching younger players and doing the recruiting and alumni-management that being a college coach entails. That's a problem that O'Brien doesn't have-
O'Brien joined New England in 2007 following 14 seasons on the college level, including stops at Duke, Maryland and Georgia Tech. He played football at Brown -- Paterno's alma mater.
What got RichRod in trouble from day zero was that he wasn't a "Michigan Man". For a third of a century dating back to 1969, UofM had been run by iconic coach Bo Schembechler and two of his former assistants Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Moeller was run off amid a drunk-driving incident but Carr half retired-half-resigned amid a touch of underperformance by Michigan standards.
Michigan alums wanted little to do with this outsider, especially one that ran a trendy spread-option format. That gave him little support to build a program around, so that when he got the team over .500 last year, it was too little, too late.
Penn State alums are already in revolt over O'Brien-
Former Penn State All-American linebacker Brandon Short told ESPN.com senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. that members of the influential Lettermen's Club have a meeting scheduled with Joyner for 1 p.m. ET Friday.
"It's unfortunate that Coach O'Brien ... has not been made aware of the implications of him being in this position," said Short, an investment banker. "I don't envy him at all. He doesn't have 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. I feel sorry for him."
Short said some members of the group were considering a range of options to express their displeasure, including asking current players to transfer and recruits to de-commit.
That would echo, with a notch more bile, what RichRod went through.
However, I don't think that anyone with a Penn State pedigree that is still alive would make it under the circumstances. Any Penn State grad or former coach would be asked "what did you know about Sandusky and what did you do about it?" A "Penn State Man" would have most likely dealt with Sandusky on some level and get a constant grilling from the media and harassment from anti-child-abuse groups. You'd have to go back to a pre-Paterno era, which would require the coach in question to be well into his 70s, to get free of that taint.
It's sad, since you have a lot of good guys who likely knew next to nothing about their DC being a pervert in his spare time. Under the circumstances, PSU needed to make a clean break and bring in a good outsider.