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Report: O’Brien agrees to become Penn State’s new head coach

Bill O'Brien AP

It appears Penn State’s two-month-long search for a new head coach will come to an end this weekend.

ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen is reporting that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to become the Nittany Lions’ coach.  An announcement from the school is expected to take place Saturday, although this report could prompt the school to expedite the process.‘s Mike Freeman subsequently confirmed that O’Brien had agreed to become PSU’s new head coach, and also added that an official announcement could come as early as Friday.

A Penn State official told CFT via text message that the school will neither confirm nor deny the report from Mortensen.  The official, who did not want his name being used due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, did allow that the search could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

The long-time assistant would replace Joe Paterno, who was fired Nov. 9 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal and after 46 years as the head coach.  O’Brien, whose name surfaced in connection to the opening over the weekend, interviewed with Penn State officials on Thursday.

The Patriots continued preparations today for their playoff game the weekend after next.  It’s unclear what the timeframe would be for O’Brien officially leaving the NFL club and assuming the Penn State position full-time.

As noted by PFT’s Mike Florio, Charlie Weis split his time between the Patriots and Notre Dame after he was named the Irish’s head coach in 2005 in the midst of a playoff run.  Like O’Brien, Weis was the NFL club’s offensive coordinator at the time.

While O’Brien has been in the NFL for the past five years, he does have extensive experience at the collegiate level.  A graduate of Brown University — coincidentally, the alma mater of Paterno — O’Brien spent time on college staffs at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06).

If Mortensen’s report is accurate, Penn State will close the final head-coaching opening at the Div. 1-A (FBS) level.

UPDATED 11:21 p.m. ET:  Just a couple of tidbits to toss into the mix.

One, multiple media outlets are reporting that O’Brien will remain with the Patriots through their playoff run before moving on to full-time duties with the Nittany Lions.  It remains unclear just how much time O’Brien will be able to devote to his new job, especially as it pertains to assembling a coaching staff and, perhaps even more importantly, solidifying Penn State’s 2012 recruiting class.

If the Patriots were to make it that far, the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, Feb. 5; National Signing Day this year is Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Secondly, and by popular demand, here is O’Brien’s sideline “discussion” with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady earlier this NFL season.  Memo to current and future Nittany Lion quarterbacks: Belichick will not be around to protect you.  Enjoy…


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28 Responses to “Report: O’Brien agrees to become Penn State’s new head coach”
  1. centexhorn says: Jan 5, 2012 10:24 PM


  2. theglap says: Jan 5, 2012 10:30 PM

    I’m not sure they could have made a worse hire. Well, OK, they certainly could have, but it would have been tough.

  3. jason1214 says: Jan 5, 2012 10:33 PM

    Solid hire PSU

  4. cereal blogger says: Jan 5, 2012 10:34 PM

    Sigh……We Are

  5. goblue714 says: Jan 5, 2012 10:35 PM

    Hopefully he does better as a head coach than the last 2 patriot OCs that became head coach’s.

  6. bonerchamp says: Jan 5, 2012 10:35 PM

    He inherited Brady. Bolden is not Brady.

  7. pastabelly says: Jan 5, 2012 10:36 PM

    Tom Brady makes another undeserving coach a millionaire.

  8. spudvol says: Jan 5, 2012 10:36 PM

    Better Title- PSU Unfriends Chris Petersen

  9. cardinalscouldbeworse6666 says: Jan 5, 2012 10:38 PM

    Interviewer: “Before we get into all the X and Os football talk, Bill, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself.”

    Bill: “Where to begin? Well, firstly, I should say that I think pederasts are just the worst! Especially the gay ones!”

    Interviewer: “You’re hired!”

    Bill: “Oh. Sweet. (pulls out parking slip) Do you validate?”

  10. thefiesty1 says: Jan 5, 2012 11:46 PM

    Well, that proves it. PSU hired anyone who would talk to them. Still grasping at straws.

  11. paulieorkid says: Jan 6, 2012 12:26 AM

    Not really digging the O’Brien hire.

    O’Brien has never been known as particularly charismatic (which is fine in the pros), but which is key to recruiting the athletes who play on Saturdays.

    And it’s long established that an ever-growing number of Belichick’s coordinators get offered huge money long-term contracts elsewhere — and then promptly fall flat on their face(s) time and time again.

    And it’s not like the New England offense suddenly became potent as a function of their hiring O’Brien for one season. The Patriot offense has been basically a juggernaut for the better part of a decade, under the stewardship of a list of offensive coordinators that were not named Bill O’Brien.

    At the risk of oversimplifying things, the key reason the Patriot offense is very productive is because it has a future NFL Hall of Famer (and perhaps the best ever, or close to it) taking snaps behind center

    It would be great to be wrong, but bringing Clements to Penn State just made a lot more sense to me – for some of the reasons already dicussed previously.

    One other key distinction: Clements sought out Penn State, is from western Pennsylvania – and really wanted the Penn State gig and to embrace the unique set of challenges. By contrast, by all acounts — O’Brien really had to be coddled and also offered a big contract to overcome a lukewarm initial interest.

    We’ll see how it goes — but it certainly raises a few concerns in my book.

    Some times, it’s great to be wrong – so time t keep the fingers crossed on this hire.

  12. billmead1976 says: Jan 6, 2012 2:11 AM

    For the sake of the alleged victims, the Penn State University should have cancelled the season and put the program on hiatus until the trial is over.

    The corrupt power of big business college football is disheartening.

  13. centexhorn says: Jan 6, 2012 3:35 AM

    You know what? I bet they saw Bill’s confrontation with Brady and they said to themselves “That is exactly what we need; somebody with an intensity who will get after guys and demand perfection; the exact opposite of Joe Paterno.”

    One of the main problems with Joe Paterno is he had just gotten comfortable with having mediocre seasons. He’d had so many seasons that he no longer saw mediocrity as a failure.

  14. brewcrewfan54 says: Jan 6, 2012 5:51 AM

    O’brien may end up being a good coach but nobody from PSU or their fans should be saying “We got our man” because that isn’t what happened.

  15. rtw1 says: Jan 6, 2012 6:36 AM

    I sure hope this will not turn into another Charlie Weiss situation at ND. PSU needs to send O’BriEn to some training classes on how to handle young adults with egos. This is an area I believe he will fail. He cannot treat young HS grads with the same demeanor he does to grown men in the Pros. If he is smart he will at least keep Bradley and a few other coaches to keep some calm in the locker room. Just my opinion…..

  16. uraxcrunner says: Jan 6, 2012 6:44 AM

    Not so sure about this……..Time will tell

  17. florida727 says: Jan 6, 2012 8:04 AM

    For those who view his rant v. Tom Brady and wonder whether or not that style works with college kids, I offer to you Frank Martin, basketball coach, Kansas State.

    PSU took the first guy to say ‘yes’. He has no head coaching experience at ANY level. Ask yourself this question PSU fans: had Paterno simply retired and there was no scandal, would this guy have even been granted an interview, let alone been tapped for the position?

    I said it before, I’ll say it again, PSU had no choice but to accept hiring a 2nd or 3rd tier coach. The scandal has to run its course and time has to pass… then they’ll get back to being the kind of top-tier program that will attract the best in coaching talent. Right now, no ‘name’ coach wants to associate themselves with the problems they face. That’ll change. Their tradition dictates it. For now, they have to accept someone like this. Too bad that so many have to pay the price for the actions of so few. Good luck PSU fans, and I mean that sincerely.

  18. steveoz49 says: Jan 6, 2012 8:35 AM

    He doesn’t have much time to put together a staff and TRY to do some recruiting if he’s going to stay on staff thru the playoffs.

  19. dhlions says: Jan 6, 2012 9:01 AM

    I can’t help but feel like he’s just a place holder until the dust settles, hopefully within 2 – 3 years.

    That said, get PSU 10 wins and keep them out of the headlines next year and I’m sure everyone will STFU right quick.

  20. phillyb6 says: Jan 6, 2012 9:02 AM

    Penn State just needs to get ready for a few years in the showe… I mean, the basement. You know how they say you don’t want to be the guy who follows the legend, you want to be the guy who follows the guy who follows the legend? Well, that’s what’s going to happen. O’Brien will be a dud, and in four or five years when PSU is re-emerging, they’ll make a great hire, and be back.

  21. dkhhuey says: Jan 6, 2012 9:03 AM

    Smart move to get somebody in the position, but I certainly am scratching my head trying to figure why they would hire a guy that cannot do much until after signing day. I’m guessing they’ve pretty much written the class of 2012 off.

  22. latrobe21 says: Jan 6, 2012 10:13 AM

    I’m less than inspired by this. Intend to drop down to the minimum NLC donation necessary to keep my four seats for 2012 and will see what happens over the next year. Maybe drop out, entirely, in 2013.

    Smart move now, to smooth over a large portion of the fanbase, would be to retain Bradley, Johnson and Vanderlinden, id they’ll stay. Particularly smart for recruiting, in case the Steelers get upset by the Pats and the Pats play into February.

  23. 1historian says: Jan 6, 2012 10:22 AM

    Why do they keep showing that argument between O’Brien and Brady?

    A: – It’s Tom Brady, aka Mr. cool, getting pissed.

    I like that.

    I agree that this hire is a temp. “The scandal has to run its course and time has to pass”, to quote the immortal words of Florida 727.

  24. 1historian says: Jan 6, 2012 10:25 AM

    It sure doesn’t hurt O’Brien that he got into a shouting match with Tom Brady.

    And there was a manly hug at the end of the game.

    Move on, folks, there’s nothing to see here.

  25. rickd785 says: Jan 6, 2012 1:40 PM

    We are pulling for you out here no matter what happens.
    Nebraska Grad.

  26. latrobe21 says: Jan 6, 2012 2:40 PM

    Thank you, Nebraska grad.

  27. cfbfaninbadnfltown says: Jan 7, 2012 1:02 AM

    @ rickd785

    Thanx Bro

  28. zurnvs says: Jan 7, 2012 7:41 AM

    Rich Rodriguez = Bill O’Brian
    This is that type of hire when you don’t get cooperation from your fans and alumni.

    I’m not a Nebraska grad

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