Was Bill O’Brien Chased From Penn State By Expectations of “Paterno People?”

Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien performed a small miracle in Happy Valley as he led a Nittany Lions football program that few thought would win more than 5 games to a 7-5 record. He is headed to the NFL to coach the Houston Texans.  But, before he was all the way out the door, O’Brien had a little something to say during an interview with David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News in early December. At that point there was only speculation of his plans to head to the NFL, but he was still towing the company line in public.

However, a conversation that was suppose to be off the record has come to light in which he spoke of his frustrations with Penn State leadership wanting him to be more of a figure head than a head coach. But things really came to a head when Jones asked O’Brien about the departure of long-time linebackers coach and Paterno hold over Ron Vanderlinden.

“You can print this: You can print that I don’t really give a sh*t what the ‘Paterno people’ think about what I do with this program. 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.

“For any ‘Paterno person’ to have any objection to what I’m doing, it makes me wanna put my fist through this windshield right now.”

He continued:

“I’m trying to field the most competitive football team I can with near-death penalty f***ing sanctions. 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.”

 “That’s why, in probably about a month, they’re gonna be f***ing looking for a new coach.”

And so it came to pass that they are currently looking for a new head coach. Longtime assistant Larry Johnson, Sr. is the interim head coach for now.