I'm going to be honest: I know almost nothing about Bill O'Brien. I know he was/is the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, but the only time I had heard of him before now was when Tom Brady shrieked at him during a Redskins game. (Perhaps provoking O'Brien to look for new work, me thinks.) Besides that, I can't profess to knowing a whole lot about the guy, and I certainly can't make a pronouncement on if he'll be a good coach or not.
But here's what else I know: the people railing against his hiring know just as much about him as I do -- and probably less. And make no mistake about it. People associated with Penn State hate this hiring, with the anger ranging from his lack of ties with the school to the fact that he isn't a big hire. Rather than paraphrase examples, I'll just direct you to some from the SB Nation Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, although one particular paragraph from their post-hiring recap caught my attention:
"Dave Joyner (and Ira Lubert, behind the scenes) arrogantly conducted this search with what appeared to be no help or input from anyone else, strung along Tom Bradley and the rest of the remaining coaching staff, acted coy in the media, assured everyone that Penn State knew exactly what it was doing, let the process drag out until the very last weeks of the recruiting period, and came back to us with Bill O'Brien. They proudly strode up to a five-alarm fire, waited six weeks, and threw a Dixie Cup of water on it. Tim Curley's hire of Patrick Chambers -- a mid-major coach tapped to take over a rarely-successful and marginally profitable men's basketball program -- was infinitely more clever and inspired than this."
I can't tell you how annoying it is to hear this debate right now, to witness people actually focus on this hire as though it means anything, as though the school deserves better. It pisses me off that members of my university continue to live in a cult-like vacuum, where the day-to-day decision-making of a doomed program is analyzed without anyone looking around and realizing that it's about as important as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It pisses me off that people are wasting their breath discussing this hire, while only referencing the child molestation fiasco that shook the university to the core as "the scandal" or "the debacle," like it's ancient history. It's insulting, it's sad, it's pathetic, and it makes me ashamed to be even slightly related to this college.
Clearly, we have learned NOTHING from the Jerry Sandusky incident. If there was any maxim the school, and the students, and the athletic program could have adopted in the wake of everything that was discovered, it was that football needed to be less of a priority. It was that human lives and the well-being of children needed to matter more than a geriatric's winning record, and that what happened with Sandusky -- when adults looked away and allowed a pedophile to wear the crest of the school's uniform knowing what he had done -- was a travesty.
So when Penn State went out a brought in a complete outsider, a man with no connections to either Sandusky or JoePa to run the football team, the alums should have understood that this was a good hire, for no other reason than because it was a necessary turn of page from the child-molestation-tolerant regime of Joe Paterno. But instead, I've spent the last week listening to PSU people bitching about the hire as it reflects the football team, saying he has no experience as a coach, saying he has no ties to the school, saying he wasn't a splashy hire. I've read and listened to complaints that have nothing to do with the Sandusky aftermath and everything to do with their on-the-field performance, and what's worse is the people most upset with the hire don't even reference Jerry Sandusky at all.
Instead of adopting that maxim, the Penn State alumni have pissed on it and thrown it out a window. They had one chance to redeem their insane rioting behavior in the wake of Paterno's firing and show that they aren't a lockstep band of idiots too obsessed with football to see what's really important; tragically, all they've done is confirm it.
I rage on in Part 2 after the jump... [explicit]
I'm going to read you the final paragraph posted in the aforementioned Black Shoe Diaries post, and then I'm going to swear.
Adam Collyer: I can't say this isn't an overwhelming disappointment. O'Brien was dead last on my list of interesting NFL assistants, which puts him dead last on my list of acceptable hires. I don't know if this affirms everything ESPN has discussed about Penn State as a "toxic" place right now, but I'm extremely concerned about hiring an NFL coordinator (who apparently doesn't have much to do with the gameplanning of his own team and would prefer to be an NFL head coach) and a career college position coach/coordinator with no head coaching experience. This is a failure on every level for Dave Joyner and Ira Lubert. Still, I'll attempt to give Bill O'Brien the benefit of the doubt. He's our coach and deserves our support. But there's no good will here right now like there was for Paterno. Start regularly going 8-4 or worse and you can show yourself out.
So, you don't like the hire? Well guess what... YOU DON'T DESERVE A COACH YOU LIKE!!!!!!!! No shit you're not happy with the guy running the football team! No one wants to go to the school where little kids got raped! No one gives a shit about the football program anymore - that's part of the consequences! And by the way, don't you dare delude yourself into thinking that the football team deserves better, because IT DOESN'T. This school deserves everything it's about to get; it deserves enrollment to drop by the thousands, it deserves philanthropists to withdraw their funding, it even deserves the Death Penalty, because no college scandal ever allowed anything in the realm of what happened at Penn State. For Christ's sake, kids got raped in the locker room of the team shower! Penn State is lucky that the football program even exists at all, and you seriously want to write about how disappointed you are that the new guy didn't meet your super-secret criteria, and that it's "a failure on every level for Dave Joyner"? Yeesh.
I know that's not very kind of me, and I know I could have expressed my thoughts clearer than just swearing a lot. But I really don't feel like being poetic about it, not when members of my university are this goddamn oblivious to the entire freaking reason Bill O'Brien was brought in in the first place. This is like an inmate on death row complaining that his final meal wasn't up to his liking; it's a staggering inability to show any perspective at all.
If moving on means hiring a completely unknown dude who you know nothing about, then that's what you do, because the only thing this school can do is move away from everything that happened. To spend even a second criticizing the hire on the grounds of a football decision isn't just pointless (because seriously, what respectable human being will go to Penn State now?), it's a tacit slap in the face to every one of Jerry Sandusky's victims. It's a brazen admission that above all else, football still matters more than anything, and that the only lesson that could have been learned from this catastrophe hasn't even been considered.
If Bill O'Brien really is a shitty hire, then too bad. We lost the right to be picky when a kid was anally raped in the shower, and yeah, I'm going to keep repeating that because there has to come a point when we slap ourselves in the face and realize, "God, football doesn't mean a fucking thing, does it?" The moment that incident occurred, and the dozens of other incidents occurred, we lost the right to demand anything from the football program, the same way those kids lost their childhoods when grown men decided Jerry Sandusky the football coach was more important than Jerry Sandusky the child molester.