UPDATED 10:01 p.m. ET: Exactly 58 days after the firing of Joe Paterno, Penn State has officially hired a permanent replacement.
And, oddly enough, the official declaration came via a posting on a social network.
In a posting to his Twitter account, PSU’s Assistant Athletic Director/Communications Jeff Nelson wrote the following: “#PennState Names Bill O’Brien 15th Head Football Coach in Storied 125-Year History of Program”. And, with that, a nearly two-month-long search had come to an end.
“I am thrilled to be the head coach of the Penn State football program,” stated O’Brien. “I cannot tell you how excited I am to get started, meet the team, meet the football alumni and meet all of the people that make this University so special. As head coach of this special football program, it is my responsibility to ensure that this program represents the highest level of character, respect and integrity in everything we do. That includes my coaching staff, our players and everyone involved in the football program. There is tremendous pride in Penn State football and will never, ever take that for granted.”
Coincidence or not, the announcement came less than a half an hour after Paterno released a statement congratulating O’Brien on his new job.
O’Brien will be officially introduced at an 11:30 a.m. ET press conference Saturday.
“We have found the man to take Penn State football forward,” said Dave Joyner, Penn State acting director of athletics. “Needless to say, we have been looking for someone with some very special qualities, beginning with a heart that beats to the values and vision of Penn State University and our Penn State football legacy and tradition. That was our starting point, and Coach O’Brien exemplifies those traits that Penn Staters hold so highly. In addition to his model characteristics as a man and a teacher, he’s all about producing winners, and doing so the right way. He will embrace tradition, demand excellence and pursue Success with Honor in every phase of our program.”
If myriad reports are accurate, Bill O’Brien will become the first head coach not named Joe Paterno to lead the Penn State football program since the 1965 season.
While the school has yet to officially announce the hiring, Coach Paterno’s not so patient; rather, he’s in a congratulatory mood.
In a statement sent to the Associated Press through his family, Paterno congratulated O’Brien on the new job, adding that he hopes the current offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots continues the program’s commitment to education. Suffice to say, there was no specific mention of the scandal that cost the legendary coach his job nearly two months ago to the day.
“I understand Bill O’Brien has been named head coach and I want to congratulate him on his appointment,” Paterno said in a statement to the AP provided by his family. “I don’t know Bill, but I respect his coaching record, and I am particularly pleased we share a connection to my alma mater, Brown.”
“Despite recent commentary to the contrary, Penn State football has always been about more than winning,” Paterno added, citing what he said was the program’s commitment to education and community service. “I am hopeful this tradition will continue.”
Despite their age difference — Paterno was completing his fourth season as head coach when O’Brien was born on Oct. 23, 1969 — and as noted in the statement, the two do have one thing in common: both coaches are graduates of an Ivy League institution, Brown University.
Penn State is expected to make O’Brien’s hiring official sooner rather than later, with a press conference taking place as early as Saturday.