New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has agreed to become Penn State University's new head football coach via ESPN on Thursday.
Let's take a look at the positives and negatives of Penn State's first head coaching hire in over 50 years.
O'Brien was named Offensive Coordinator of the Patriots in February 2011, but has been calling their offensive plays far longer than that. Under O'Brien, The Patriots have ranked 6th (2009), 1st (2010) and 3rd (2011) in points scored.
Penn State has always been criticized for their "last-gen", milk-toast offense. If O'Brien can bring his offensive success to Happy Valley, Penn State could find a brand new identity and finally adapt to a sport that embraced the wide-open offensive game long ago.
When Terrelle Pryor visited PSU during his recruiting process, he raved about Tom Bradley but chided the Lions' "boring" offensive disposition. O'Brien's multiple-receiver sets and complicated formations will bring excitement, a fresh-look and most importantly, points.
O'Brien is a Brown grad, so he's likely a sharp guy. The last time PSU hired a Brown alumnus as their head was when they tabbed Joe Paterno in 1966.
Penn State needed a fresh, clean break and bringing back Tom Bradley, unfairly or not, would've protracted the malaise that has fallen upon Sad Valley, PA. O'Brien has zero ties to the glory days and can create a new brand for PSU.
The 42-year-old O'Brien may have been calling plays since 2008, but he's only been an offensive coordinator, at any level, for one year. 2011.
While calling plays is a major responsibility, what skills does he have as a manager of people? Coaching a major FBS college program is like running a Fortune 500 company. He has bided his time since he first became a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech in 1993, but his experience with major college programs is minimal. He coached at Maryland and Duke before joining the Patriots. Not exactly perennial top tens.
His most memorable moment so far is his ferocious argument with Tom Brady. Is that the kind of behavior you want molding the minds of student athletes? That spat reminded me a lot of Todd Haley.
When and where has a Bill Belichick disciple ever found success at the Head Coaching level? Romeo Crennel (Fired By Cleveland), Eric Mangini (Fired by Cleveland and New York Jets), Charlie Weiss (Fired by Notre Dame Offense), Josh McDaniels (Fired by Denver).
Lastly, O'Brien will reportedly stay with the Pats throughout their playoff run, which likely will extend into February. How will PSU recruiting handle this? Its just another disadvantage for an already crippled institution.
Multiple Nittany Lion Legends like D.J. Dozier, LaVar Arrington, Brandon Short and Todd Blackledge have expressed extremely negative opinions toward O'Brien, AD Dave Joyner and the committee tasked with the hiring process.
The hire seems like a transitional one and not a long-term solution. With little experience, Bill O'Brien is a low-risk gamble. He won't command a large salary or long contract and if he's unsuccessful, he can be fired without any emotional backlash from fans.
I believe that O'Brien will serve his liminal purpose, add some experience to his resume but ultimately, he will fail. He has too much stacked against him. An administration in disarray, a stigma upon his program and unsupportive lettermen and alumni will cause him to meet an untimely end. I give it three years and one missed bowl game.