Bill O’Brien helped Penn State escape from the scandalous end of the previous regime. But Bill O’Brien’s only escape from the previous regime was to escape State College. Insight to this mindset of the new Houston Texans head coach comes from PennLive.com writer David Jones, who talked to a frustrated O’Brien over the phone about a month ago after the coach had fired a linebackers coach tied to the Joe Paterno era.
“You can print that I don’t really give a —- what the ‘Paterno people’ think about what I do with this program,” vented O’Brien. “I’ve done everything I can to show respect to Coach Paterno. Everything in my power. So I could really care less about what the Paterno faction of people, or whatever you call them, think about what I do with the program. I’m tired of it.”
The fiery O’Brien, who famously clashed with Tom Brady on the sidelines when he served as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, has a reputation for displaying emotion–in contrast to his stoic mentor Bill Belichick.
He compiled a 15-9 record at Penn State, winning Big Ten “coach of the year” honors in 2012. “For any ‘Paterno person’ to have any objection to what I’m doing,” O’Brien told Jones, “it makes me wanna put my fist through this windshield right now.” It wasn’t just the remora clinging to the program that vexed the Penn State coach, but the Paterno regime’s legacy of sanctions, as well.
“I’m trying to field the most competitive football team I can with near-death penalty —-ing sanctions,” O’Brien proclaimed. “Every time I say something like that and somebody prints it, it’s skewed as an excuse. And I’m not an excuse-maker. I’m trying to do the best I can for the kids in that program. That’s all I care about is the kids in that program as long as I’m the head football coach here.”
And as O’Brien indicated, that wouldn’t be for very long. He predicted in early December that Penn State would be searching for a new coach in about a month, which is what they’re doing.