I have tried my best to refrain from jumping into this fray. There are enough people out there with similar opinions and thoughts that have done a much better job articulating them than I ever would. But I have had it. This in-fighting and public sniping has gone too far, and if it does not stop, not only Penn State football, but Penn State University is going to lose good people trying to lead this school out of the wilderness. I honestly believe that Bill O’Brien, and his staff, who deserve all the credit they have received, and some, have had enough. Just listen to O’Brien’s conference call with the media earlier this week in the fallout from the Sports Illustrated story.
Look no further than what happened at Michigan when Lloyd Carr retired and Rich Rodriguez took over. Yes, there were other underlying circumstances, and RichRod didn’t win, at all, but the chasm that divided the program went public, and crippled a program every bit as rich in history and tradition of Penn State. Remember “unnamed sources” tipping the media off to the now infamous practice habits. You do not have to work too hard to see some of the similarities.
Now, there are differences, of course. From all indications, there is no undercover revolt against O’Brien or his staff. No, it has instead focused on his bosses, notably AD David Joyner. I am no fan of Joyner, nor is much of the Penn State fan base. But, what exactly is gained by calling the man out, in a national publication, in what appears to be a glorified pissing match? Not only that, but Coach O’Brien was dragged into this mess, somewhat indirectly, by questioning the changes he suggested to the medical care within the football program. Changes that, as PSU has pointed out emphatically, are very much in line with what is done at other major college football programs.
I know this will come as a shock to many of you, but Joe Paterno’s way is not the only way to do things, even at Penn State. I do not think I can state emphatically enough that PSU football was in need of a fresh set of eyes, and fresh ideas, in practically every aspect of the program, not just in offensive strategy. And if a man like Bill O’Brien, who has worked with some of the most respected men in coaching, thinks it’s worth making a change, I’m sure as hell going to listen.
Now you have a trustee, who I imagine is more than capable of picking up the phone and getting a hold of the football coach, publicly questioning that coach. What exactly does that accomplish, other than pissing off that coach (and giving us some of the best audio ever)? While that is just one part of this, it feels entirely symptomatic of this political struggle going on at PSU. And it is not good for anyone.
Remember back in December and January when Bill O’Brien was very much under consideration for a number of NFL coaching jobs? This is a man that clearly has options, and is clearly not happy with what is going on. He’s also a man that has done more than anyone else to bring some semblance of hope and unity to Penn State. I doubt he expected that was what he was signing up for back in January of 2012, but it is what he got, and he has surpassed what any of us hoped for, and maybe what some of us deserve.
My plea is a simple one. Shut up. If you have a problem with something, bring it up with that person, behind closed doors, and away from a media all too eager to pile on. I have no doubts the support for O’Brien, his staff, and his team is unbelievably high. You would obviously be foolish to not feel that way. But this public politicking amongst his bosses and decision makers needs to stop. Now. Otherwise, we risk losing perhaps the best thing Penn State has going for it.
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