The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

A football legend is gone, but is there a new one on the way for the Penn State Nittany Lions?

Former Patriots’ offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has become the new head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. And there has been a lot of controversy about his getting the job.

How do you replace an icon? One that has won the most games in Division I football (409 games) and is as loved by students, staff, alumni and student athletes alike? The answer: not easily, but Penn State University has taken the first step in this arduous process by hiring O’Brien.

“What we stood for and what we represented for so long, what we have been taught, what we have been trained to know and the values that I raise my own children with, you’re basically telling me it’s good, only as long as times are good?” said former Nittany Lions linebacker LeVar Arrington.

The fans are concerned with the hire. Their first concern is that O’Brien is not part of the Penn State family. Secondly, what experience does O’Brien have? He has never been a head coach. He has coached subpar college programs as a running back coach and assistant offensive coordinator. Many argue that his only real success in the pros has come off the arm of Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, especially after last weekend’s playoff game, proving Penn State’s position that he may not be ready.

Amidst those concerns, the school has its reasons for the hiring. By going outside the family, they can start over after the sex abuse scandal that rocked the university.

“I wasn’t here, and I am planning for the future,” said O’Brien when asked about the issue.

The recruiting process for Penn State has been a struggle to say the least. It is hard to recruit anyone when you do not have a head coach. But all of those problems seem to be solved with the hiring of O’Brien.

One of the top quarterback recruits in the country, Skyler Mornhinweg, verbally committed to Penn before the Sandusky incident. Since the hiring of O’Brien, Mornhinweg is scheduled to visit Penn State in the next few weeks and will make his decision as to what college he will attend.

Some of the other notable recruits that are deciding yea or nay on making Happy Valley their home for the next four years are cornerback Armani Reeves, linebacker Camren Williams and defensive end Brent Wilkerson and safety Demetrious Cox.

Another key factor that should be considered is that Penn State is a very prestigious academic school as well. They believe that the commitment to academics should be as important as the commitment to football.

O’Brien, who graduated from Brown, understands the management of football and academics. When introduced as Head Coach, O’Brien spoke of what his concerns for his players would be.

“The ability to get a meaningful degree, graduate from Penn State and make something of your life,” said O’Brien. “We’re going to try and teach our players what it means to be a Penn State man.”

The Penn State search committee had a very tough task of finding a new head coach due to the lack of interest in the job by many candidates.

With the hiring of O’Brien, Penn State has begun to fill the gaps left by Paterno and members of his former staff.  The upcoming season will be a true test of Bill O’Brien’s coaching ability as he attempts to find success in filling the shoes of a walking legend who left the institution in shame but remains supported by many of the Nittany Lion faithful.

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