As a Penn State grad I was initially angry when I heard Bill O’Brien was considering leaving Happy Valley for The NFL’s Houston Texans. How could he abandon all those kids who stuck with the program through all the sanctions, especially now that those sanctions were being lifted? On further reflection, that’s exactly why he can leave. He guided the team through the most difficult period, kept the players together though overwhelming negativity, made the team relevant and a destination for recruits. Certainly, in so doing, he polished his own resume, going from a relatively obscure offensive coordinator on the New England Patriots, a person known in coaching circles but not considered to be a prime head coaching candidate, to someone who became the frontrunner for the best available NFL coaching vacancy. The Texans are a team most people consider likely to rebound into the playoff contender they were expected to be during this injury ravaged season, where everything that could go wrong did, with the first pick in the draft in their back pocket to boot.
Meanwhile, Penn State is considered a prime job again, the scandal receding, the available scholarships increasing, the character of the players impressive. The list of potential coaching candidates contains the cream of the crop, something that would have been unthinkable two years ago when O’Brien arrived. Penn State’s football program is on solid ground and should remain so in the future and we have Bill O’Brien to thank, so instead of being angry, be thankful and optimistic, both Penn State and Bill O’Brien have brighter futures thanks to their pairing over the last two years.