Bill O’Brien has made the decision to stay at Penn State. I would have loved to see what he could have down with my favorite since childhood, the Cleveland Browns. He obviously is an excellent coach and more than NFL teams have cast a longing eye on his leadership. But O’Brien recognized that what he has sought to do in Happy Valley is not yet finished. O’Brien commented: “I’m not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that’s what I am going to do.”
Out of the devastation of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes, Joe Paterno’s fall from grace, and immense NCAA sanctions; O’Brien held together a storied program and help write a new story with Penn State’s success on the gridiron this fall. He helped put the adjective “character” back into that program and he modeled character for some fine young athletes. In particular, O’Brien’s leadership helped PSU’s seniors hold their heads high as they completed the season as a team together, instead of separately on campuses across the nation. Without negating the crime, nor blunting the passionate sympathy for those abused; O’Brien helped Penn State have a redeemed self-image; the kind of outcome that reinforces a quality education.
All of that would have been muted if O’Brien had departed. Incoming recruits would have lost something of the promise that had attracted them to play for a school still under sanctions for several years. I say, “God bless, Bill O’Brien” (just don’t help him beat the Buckeyes next year).