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Bill O’Brien: From Brown to Beaver Stadium

Thursday evening, ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen reported that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had reached an agreement with Penn State to be Joe Paterno’s successor. Twenty-four hours later, after arriving in State College, Penn State official confirmed the report and will introduce O’Brien as the 15th head coach in school history during a press conference today.

O’Brien remains a relative unknown, but below shows his previous stops prior to arriving in Happy Valley along with a few thoughts:

  • 1969: Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts on October 23. He is now 42 years old.
  • 1990- 1992: Played defensive end and linebacker at Brown university
  • 1993-1994: Tight and and linebackers coach at Brown
  • 1995-2002: Assistant at Georgia Tech, offensive coordinator during final two seasons
  • 2003-2004: Running backs coach at Maryland
  • 2005-2006: Offensive coordinator at Duke
  • 2007-2011: Various offensive positions with the Patriots including receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and, most recently, offensive coordinator
This would not be an Onward State post without a little bit of opinion. One can make a case that there are several red flags associated with this hire. O’Brien has no head coach experience at any level, and his collegiate offenses were underwhelming ranking 34th and 57th in the nation (out of 120) in his two years at Georgia Tech and 116th and 105th at Duke. The two Duke teams he oversaw finished a combined 1-22. On the other hand, O’Brien can boast about overseeing an explosive Patriots offense, even if it does lead to the occasional argument. Several of his former players and coaches have nothing but good things to say about him.
Overall I am very skeptical and believe Penn State could have done better, but O’Brien was brave enough to take this job under very tough circumstances and deserves support. His team will not take the field for close to eight months, but the Bill O’Brien era at Penn State is underway.
What will his biography say in ten years?

About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.


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