Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner made official this morning what we’ve known since Tuesday — Bill O’Brien is heading to Houston to coach the Texans with three years still left on his Penn State contract.
Joyner addressed the media this morning at Beaver Stadium on the edge of an otherwise desolate campus. As expected, there wasn’t a lot of substantial news or reasons given for O’Brien’s departure, but Joyner had nothing but positive things to say about Penn State’s 15th head coach.
“I want to emphasize that we are happy for Coach O’Brien…we’re very grateful for the last two years here at Penn State,” Joyner said. “I believe he always had Penn State’s best interest at heart but this was a tremendous opportunity that came up.”
Joyner also announced the makeup of the six-member search committee that will hire Penn State’s next head coach, which he will again chair. Membership includes:
- Dr. Tom Poole — Vice President for Administration
- Charmelle Green — Associate Athletic Director, Senior Woman Administrator
- Dr. Linda Caldwell — Faculty Athletics Representative, Distinguished Professor
- Bob Warming — Head Coach, Men’s Soccer
- Wally Richardson — Director, Penn State Football Letterman’s Club
The search committee that hired O’Brien took two months to make its decision, but Joyner assured that this one will be quicker. “We expect this search to be very timely and we’ll be counting this as a matter of days rather than a matter of weeks,” Joyner said. He also added that a number of “very prominent” coaches have already reached out to Penn State already expressing interest in the job.
Joyner also confirmed previous reports that defensive line coach Larry Johnson will step in as Penn State’s interim head coach while the search is underway.
“(Johnson) is a great representative on what Penn State football and Penn State University is all about,” Joyner said, adding that Johnson would be “welcomed” if he applied for the job himself.
“I’m humbled by the confidence that Penn State has bestowed upon me during this critical time for the football program and honored to do my part to help Penn State,” Johnson said in a statement. “This program has a historic past and very bright future and I look forward to continuing to work with the players, staff and our incoming recruiting class to uphold the tremendous traditions, ideals and principles that make Penn State the best University in the nation and the football program the most successful on and off the field.”
Joyner also addressed the controversial David Jones report published Tuesday that claimed one of the reasons O’Brien left was because of vocal Joe Paterno supporters. Jones quoted O’Brien earlier this month as saying “You can print that I don’t really give a fuck about what the ‘Paterno people’ think I do with this program,” specifically regarding the resignation of longtime linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden. It was clear Joyner, who has experienced the grief of ‘Paterno people’ more than once, had an answer prepared.
“Our fans are passionate. Our fans believe in Penn State. Going forward, the coach will understand that,” Joyner said. “Maybe that’s why they express themselves.”
You can be sure they’ll be expressing themselves in the coming weeks when we’re back at Beaver Stadium to welcome Penn State’s 16th head football coach, no matter who it is.