Bill O’Brien left Penn State for the Houston Texans for a number of reasons. The first is likely because it has been a long time dream and ultimate goal of O’Brien to be a head coach in the NFL. After that may be the unstable state of the leadership in place at Penn State and the broken promises left behind after two years on the job.
John U. Bacon, author of Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, outlined what he believed to be the logic that helped lead O’Brien to accepting an offer made by the Texans earlier this month. His thoughts are mapped out in a column on The Post Game. As a number of Penn State fans may tell you, the assumptions are not all that surprising. Bacon blames the failed leadership at Penn State almost as much as the inviting nature of the sales pitch made by Houston.
From the infighting Penn State Board of Trustees and the handling and response to the somewhat infamous Freeh Report to the apparent lack of concern for O’Brien’s résumé, Bacon suggests there were a number of reasons O’Brien may have been concerned about the job. Many who read Bacon’s book will recognize some of the points illustrated in his column outlining the O’Brien departure. Much of the criticism is aimed at athletics director David Joyner. It didn’t stop there though. Bacon says O’Brien was made promises that simply were not kept by Joyner, including increased pay for assistant coaches and facilities and more. Those promises were not kept, according to Bacon. Perhaps having to pay off a $60 million fine and decreased attendance figures had something to do with that.
“I want to be clear: I love the Penn State fans and always will,” O’Brien told Bacon. “They were incredibly supportive, and the players were great. I love those guys. I just felt that this was the best move for me and my family.”
O’Brien was never a long-term solution for Penn State. He was always going to be more of a transition piece for Penn State from the downfall of the Joe Paterno era to the next face of the program (James Franklin?). O’Brien thrived under the pressure of the situation but always had the NFL on his to-do list. While he did some great things, miraculous even to some extent considering the circumstances, Penn State never should have believed O’Brien would be there for too long.
That said, that does not mean Penn State should not have done their part to hold up their end of the deal.
Texas Tech officially announced the hiring of Mark Tommerdahl to be the new special teams coach for the Red Raiders on the staff led by Matt Wells. Tommerdahl takes on the title of associate head coach as well as special teams coordinator and assistant offensive line coach.
Wells previously had Tommerdahl as a special teams coach at Utah State in 2017. Tommerdahl spent the 2018 season as special teams and tight ends coach at Purdue. He has had previous stops at Cal, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Wyoming during his coaching career since 1984.
During their one season together at Utah State in 2017, Wells and Tommerdahl had a special teams unit that ranked fourth in the nation in blocked punts and owned a top 25 kickoff return defense. Last year, Tommerdahl’s Purdue special teams ranked 39th in punting (while Texas Tech ranked 61st) and 29th in punt return defense (Texas Tech was 40th). Purdue kicked just one kickoff out of bounds last season, while Texas Tech kicked six kickoffs out of bounds.
One of Troy’s top defensive players will be looking to play somewhere new in 2019. Tron Folsom announced he will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal to begin evaluating any potential options for his final year of eligibility on the football field.
“After talking it over with my family, I will enter my name in the transfer porta and re-open my recruitment as a graduate transfer in the spring,” Folsom said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Friday. “I have no specific schools in mind and will be open minded during this process.”
As a graduate transfer, Folsom will be eligible to play immediately for whatever his new program may be this fall. He will have just one year of eligibility remaining after playing in a total of 38 games for Troy over the past three seasons.
Folsom recorded 9.0 tackles for a loss among his 82 total tackles for the Trojans last season. Folsom also had three sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
After starting each of Maryland’s last 24 games, punter Wade Lees is ready to explore his potential options. According to a report on Friday, Lees has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to be in contact with other programs who may be in need of a new punter on their football roster.
The oldest player in the Big Ten last season, Lees has one year of eligibility remaining.
Lees punted 67 times with a punting average of 40.93 yards per punt last season for Maryland. He punted five times inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in a game against Penn State last November. It was the second time he had downed five punts inside the 20-yard line in a game during his Maryland career. In 2017, Lees punted 64 times for an average of 39.23 yards per punt. Those numbers put him right about in the middle of the Big Ten punting categories with the second-highest average number of punts per game. Lees started for Maryland for all 13 games played in his freshman season of 2016 as well.
With Lees potentially on the move, Maryland’s roster has just one player listed as a punter on the official team roster published online. Bentley Faulkner, who did not appear in a game in 2018 as a true freshman, figures to take over the punting duties during spring football practices. Expect Maryland head coach Mike Locksley to try adding a punter before the fall, if just for depth as the worst-case scenario.
Technology is a wonderful thing. And because of it, we’ll all be able to witness to Mike Leach instructing his class this spring semester at Washington State. Specifically, the world will be invited to observe the final session of Leach’s course, Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies, in late April.
Leach’s course is an extracurricular course being offered by Washington State with four separate sessions beginning in late March. The course is only available to WSU students, of course, but WSU knows there is much to be gained by allowing Leach’s class to be viewed by others outside of Pullman.
According to a statement released by Washington State, the final session will summarize all four previous lectures and there will be a live Q&A session. Those watching the live feed will be invited to submit questions in text form for the Q&A too.