Penn State made it official today. Bill O’Brien is no longer the head coach of the Nittany Lions football team. Athletic Director Dave Joyner announced the school will begin a nationwide search for the next head coach immediately and hope to hire someone new in the coming days.
The news of O’Brien’s departure is the talk of the town. Penn State Football is king in State College. Some fans who spoke with FOX43 said O’Brien leaving is yet another shot at a once proud football program. “To leave all of a sudden it’s really heartbreaking. I’m really disappointed,” said former PSU student Karen Rubia.
Bill O’Brien joined Penn State at a time of great turmoil. He replaced longtime coach Joe Paterno following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. He had high expectations in the face of crippling NCAA Sanctions. O’Brien’s performance made a statement. “I think he did a great job as a football coach. I think performed better than anybody anticipated. And I think the credit goes to him and the team members. They really pulled it together,” said Don Zettlemoyer, who lives in State College.
In his two seasons he led the Nittany Lions to a 15-9 record. In 2012 he earned Big Ten coach of the year.
“I think he did a great job while he was here, so I wish him all the best,” said Zettlemoyer.
Before joining Penn State, O’Brien spent time as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots. Some say he was destined to return to the NFL. “I don’t think there was any grand plan on his part. Obviously opportunity comes up and you have to take it while it’s there,” said Zettlemoyer.
There are a lot of fans in Happy Valley who aren’t too happy with O’Brien’s decision, saying his departure is yet another shot to a once proud football program. “Ever since the Sandusky thing happened he gave the players hope. Not a promise, but he gave them something to believe in. So to leave, you’re kind of pulling that away from them. It’s heartbreaking,” said Rubia.
Now the focus turns to the future of the Penn State Football Program. This is something fans can all agree on.