After the passing of longtime Penn St. Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno, new coach Bill O'Brien shared a statement. O'Brien was brought on to replace Paterno after a long search that added stress to much of the PSU community. Many Nittany Lions supporters wanted to see an insider like interim coach Tom Bradley assume full responsibility for the program, and several former players voiced disapproval of the hiring of New England Patriots offensive coordinator O'Brien. Days later, O'Brien received a standing ovation at a Penn State basketball game.
The new coach said he was able to speak to Paterno over the phone once after being hired. Paterno expressed his support for O'Brien, but the two reportedly spoke mostly of their common alma mater, Brown.
O'Brien's statement in full:
It is with great sadness that I am compelled to deliver this message of condolence and tribute to a great man, husband, father and someone who is more than just a coach, Joe Paterno.
First, on behalf of Penn State Football, we offer our sincerest condolences to the Paterno family for their loss. We also offer our condolences to the Penn State community and, in particular, to those who wore the Penn State colors, our Nittany Lion football players and alumni. Today they lost a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure, and we extend our deepest sympathies.
The Penn State Football program is one of college football's iconic programs because it was led by an icon in the coaching profession in Joe Paterno. There are no words to express my respect for him as a man and as a coach. To be following in his footsteps at Penn State is an honor. Our families, our football program, our university and all of college football have suffered a great loss, and we will be eternally grateful for Coach Paterno's immeasurable contributions.
Elsewhere in the Penn State football program, the show goes on.