O’Brien to Penn State? Really?

We here at Hooking Foul have mostly steered clear of the horrible mess that has occurred in Happy Valley, PA where Penn State is located, but the story came home late last night. Sources have cited that Patriots Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien will take the reigns of what was once the gold standard of college football programs and is now a punchline. If this is true I think there really is only one question to start with, why?

As I said, this program was once the gold standard, but now the stench surrounding it is pungent. Many folks still call it one of the best 20 football jobs in the country, meaning its a better job than plenty of NFL jobs and I wonder how can that be said? Joe Paterno has held the job since 1966 a span of 45 years. Does that mean its a great job, I assume it must have been, at least for him, especially since Paterno was hesitant to give it up even after it became obvious he should. Does that make it a great job today?

They are going to pay him huge dollars even with no head coaching experience. So that certainly makes it appealing and great from a compensation stand point. He will earn those dollars though far more than the other ridiculously high salaries of college coaches ont he recruiting trail alone.

Coaches get graded on wins and losses first. With O’Brien’s explosive offense winning in the Big 10 won’t be an issue. The Big 10 stinks as a major football conference. He can step in and be competitive especially with the right coaching hires around him.

Recruiting. The sales part of the job. Talking to high school kids about your school and getting them to attend. Sounds easy enough certainly, but lets be honest every time Penn State and Sandusky lead Sportscenter with a trial story Bill O’Brien will be the guy wearing a Penn State tie while sitting in a recruits living room. Talking to the players will be easy because you tell a kid how he fits in your offense and you can see him scoring 10 TDs a year and the kids eyes light up.  Talking to parents will be different. He will be questioned insistently and these are what the questions will be, or at least the ones I would ask, and I’m not even a parent.

How safe is the campus?
Will my son become the next Mike McQueary and have his life changed in horrible ways?
WIll my son be pestered by the media day and night?
What other skeletons lie dormant right now buried by Penn State administrators just waiting for the right investigator to find them?
Could these skeletons potentially cause the football program to be shut down?
What would that do to my son’s scholarship?
Could he transfer without having to sit out a year?
Where does the NCAA stand?
Are you going to be bowl eligible?1

I think the hardest part of answering that slew of questions will be that O’Brien won’t have any answers. The NCAA rules at their leisure and certainly won’t rule soon. How could anyone know what the now former Penn State administrators buried or for what reasons, and they aren’t about to talk. I think the hardest part of recruiting in general is assuring the parent that the college experience at your institution is in the best interests of their child for hundreds of reasons, but safety is always at the top. You can never be sure of safety. It isn’t guaranteed for anyone. So to convince parents that Happy Valley is safe while the media descends for a massive trial that squarely involves Penn State universities former president, athletic director, head coach and defensive coordinator, good luck. You aren’t getting my kid and the earliest that could be would be 19 recruiting classes from now.

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  1. I think its obvious I am not a parent because while some of my questions deal with “my son’s” safety most deal with potential on field circumstances. []

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