Local News

Players talk O’Brien departure, search for replacement

Penn State leaders made it official Thursday morning when they announced football coach Bill O’Brien will leave the school to take over as head coach for the Houston Texans. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson will serve as interim head coach while a committee searches for a replacement.

Tight end Adam Breneman, a standout when he attended Cedar Cliff High School, has been talking with O’Brien the last several days about the move.

Breneman said O’Brien indicated over the weekend he was considering the move and confirmed it to Breneman in a phone call Tuesday.

“You know, I think (I felt) disappointment at first because I went to Penn State to play for Coach O’Brien. That’s one of the main reasons I went there,” said Breneman. “He has a dream to coach in the NFL just like I have a dream to play in the NFL, so I understand where he’s coming from. And, you can’t fault a guy for chasing his dream.”

Breneman said he’s been in touch with several teammates in the last few days, including quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Breneman said none have indicated to him they planned to leave the team because of the decision.

“Coach O’Brien told my recruiting class that he’d be there for our career back when we were getting recruited. But, I don’t think he made that commitment deceitfully. I don’t think that he intentionally lied to us,” said Breneman.

Some players tweeted Thursday about Johnson being named interim head coach.

Deion Barnes said, “I know me and many other players would love to have coach Johnson as our head coach, he’s a great leader and will be a great head coach.”

Jake Kiley added, “Nice to hear that keeping Coach Johnson as our head coach could be an option. No one knows us or the school better.”

Breneman said having some with Penn State ties “wouldn’t hurt,” but he added he doesn’t think it should be a requirement.

He said, “As long as you’re a good person, you know what commitment means, you give your word to kids and you keep it. As long as a coach does that, I think we’ll be all right.”

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