Coaches Caravan Hits New York City
Just shy of four months after President Erickson met with alumni in New York City, the first Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled into town to meet some of the same alumni. Coaches Bill O’Brien (Football), Coquese Washington (Women’s Basketball), Russ Rose (Men’s Volleyball), and Greg Nye (Men’s Golf) were present, although Coach Nye didn’t speak during the presentation. While the tone at Erickson’s event featured a lot of anger towards the Board of Trustees from alumni, many of the alumni seemed very excited about the future of the football team, Penn State athletics, and the University itself.
Coach O’Brien began his portion of the presentation by stressing how much he respected Joe Paterno for everything he has done for Penn State. He specifically cited the beautiful facilities the football team has access to, along with the tremendous character of the athletes he has had the opportunity to meet.
During the question and answer portion of the presentation, an audience member asked if there would be more games in the New York City area in the future. Coach O’Brien announced that while he does hope to have the annual meeting with Pitt that he had mentioned on a previous stop, he also hopes to have an early season game/kickoff classic against a traditionally powerful football team at MetLife Stadium starting during either the 2015 or 2016 seasons. He also reaffirmed his idea to have the football team join the student section in singing the Alma Mater after home games.
All of the coaches and speakers emphasized the importance of season tickets and joining the Nittany Lion Club. O’Brien specifically asked the crowd, “If we can get 108,000 to a football game, why not 15,000 to a basketball game?”
While the event focused on the future of athletics at Penn State, many alumni mentioned Joe Paterno while fielding their questions to Coach O’Brien. O’Brien was able to answer the questions in a way that pleased most of the audience, but the one question that will remain to be answered is how will Coach O’Brien’s first season go. Many alumni are evidently waiting for this answer, as it seems that Penn State has another problem on their hands that they haven’t had in quite a long time -– selling football season tickets.
While Coach O’Brien pressured the audience to attend as many different athletic events as possible, it was clear to the audience that there was also a certain amount of uneasiness from the Nittany Lion Club about the upcoming season. While Russ Rose joked, “Everyone loves [Coach O’Brien], he hasn’t coached a game yet,” it may be a relief for everyone when September 1st comes, especially if the day ends with a one in the win column.
Photo by: Mike Misciagno