Ok before you read any further, let me lay a few things on the table(napkins optional for drooling purposes).
First, as many of you already know, I have a vested interested in Penn State - some may even call it Homerism, so take this opinion piece with a grain of salt(this is primarily directed at you HogHunter). Second, I'm not necessarily of the opinion we need a new head coach next year - hell, I'm actually(for once)on the fence here!
Now that we have gotten those two VERY important disclaimers out of the way..............................onto the show!
What comes to mind when you hear the name Bill O'Brien(crickets chirping...............)? Fine, many of you may not even know who the man is. For those of you who don't, hang tight for just a minute. For those of you who are not intimately familiar with the name, but maybe just know he was the former offense coordinator for the New England Patriots record setting offense, and is now the current head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, you may best remember him for his nationally televised sideline "spat" with the great Tom Brady, where a few choice words we usually reserve for Albert Haynesworth posts were used. Either way, like it or not, I'm going to make you all a little more familiar with the man we(at PSU) so lovingly refer to as BOB.
Too much background information is boring, and stats are for suckers, so I'm going to tell you what you NEED to know.
Bill O'Brien is a 44 year old offensive genius. Enough said. Oh, but you want some proof? Fine, I'll lay it all on the line for you.
O'Brien, who is a Massachusetts native, graduated from Brown University, where he was a linebacker and defensive end for the Bears from 1990-1992(like you couldn't tell from the Butt-Chin). He started his college coaching career at his alma mater in 1993. His real tutledge came in 1995 when he joined the staff at Georgia Tech, and learned under the great George O'Leary. Bill spent eight years at Georgia Tech, and held positions all the way from graduate assistant to assistant head coach. But, it was as an offensive coordinator that he really made his mark. Before embarking for the NFL, he spent two years at Maryland as running backs coach, and two years at Duke as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Do you see a common theme? Yes, BOB has attended, played at, and coached some very prestigious academic universities. This man is no dummy.
In 2007 O'Brien became an assistant coach for the New England Patriots. He would go on to serve as wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator, before leaving for the greener pastures of State College Pennsylvania to take over as head coach for the departed legend Joe Paterno.
Penn State was a totally different animal that it was during the Paterno years. The football team had just been slapped with the worst sanctions in NCAA history, and although these were not present when O'Brien accepted the job, he and his agent new they could be coming. Facing the biggest challenge of his young coaching career, O'Brien became the glue that held the team together. He led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record, and on the way collected The Big Ten Coach of the Year, and the National Coach of the Year awards. He took a pedestrian quarterback by the name of Matt McGloin(who I know pretty well)and turned him into one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation. McGloin re-wrote some Penn State single season records that year, and went on to make the Oakland Raiders 53-man roster. He made his first start last week, and earned his first NFL win. After the season was over, O'Brien went on to sign the number one pro-style high school quarterback, and the top tight end in the country - this admist all the sanctions, which included a reduction in scholarships, and a four year post season bowl ban.
In 2013, Penn State has had an up and down season, but they remain hot on the recruiting trail. Even with limited scholarships(which have recently been restored for future seasons), O'Brien has landed a commitment from another top 10 quarterback, the nations best tight end(yet again), and a receiving class that ranks amongst the best in college football. On the field, he has molded true freshmen quarterback Christian Hankenberg into a dangerous weapon. Hackenberg, along with All-American wide receiving candidate Allen Robinson, and tight ends Jessie James and Adam Breneman have combined to lead one of the Big Tens most explosive passing games.
So why would a life-long fan of Penn State want Bill O'Brien to leave for the NFL?
The reasons are both many, and few.
First, BOB has expressed a desire to be a head coach at the highest level. He may honor his current contract which runs through 2016, but unless the sanctions are lifted completely, not a person in their right mind would ever blame him for leaving for an NFL head coaching job. Second, O'Brien is a quarterback and offensive genius. He is intelligent, innovative, creative and energetic. He comes from great roots including the aforementioned George O'Leary, and the great Bill Belichick. All he needs to do is point to one Tom Brady, and the success of the Patriots offense under his guidance to lend credence to this testament. We have a dynamic quarterback in Robert Griffin III who could be like clay in O'Brien's magical hands. Not only would he be great for RG3, but he has a great history of success with tight ends in his offense, and we have a pretty good one in Jordan Reed. Third, BOB would demand respect, integrity and professionalism from his players, and is used to dealing with advirsity - which is very evident in how he has handled the situation at Penn State. After going through what he has been through these last two seasons, taking over a team like the Redskins would be a walk in the park. Finally, O'Brien is not the type of head coach who wants/needs total control. He is smart enough to know his limitations, and will surround himself with the right people to make his team successful. This type of coach would allow a general manager to actually do their job, and get the right players to fit his system.
So, in closing, do I want O'Brien to leave Penn State for the NFL....................absolutely not, but if he is indeed to leave, either soon, or in the near future, I'd rather see him go from my favorite college team, to my favorite NFL team, than to fester on the sidelines of one of our competitors.
In my mind, if we do decide to make a coaching change either now, or at the end of Mike Shanahan's contract, there isn't a candidate I'd rather have leading our Redskins than Bill O'Brien - although it would be so bitter-sweet.