Take this moment to enjoy a few deep cleansing breaths and remember that a hire is not a hire until it’s a hire. The Associated Press is reporting that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to become Penn State head coach, but that the details are still being discussed and nothing is official. Yet reality is congealing, and we concede: It looks very much like O’Brien to Penn State will happen.
And so, we’re taking a quick break from bowl coverage to survey fan and media and fan-media hybrid reactions to the development:
• Leading off with the loudest: LaVar Arrington, former Nittany Lions standout and staunch supporter of interim head coach Tom Bradley, is most displeased with the hire:
“I will put my Butkus (Award) in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage,” Arrington said. “Jerseys, anything Penn State, in storage. Wherever Tom Bradley goes, that’s the school I will start to put memorabilia up in my home. I’m done. I’m done with Penn State. If they’re done with us, I’m done with them.”
• Fellow alum Todd Blackledge also expressed his reservations, and on national television:
I understand Bill O’Brien probably understands football very well, but I think understanding Penn State and what Penn State is all about, what Penn State needs to go forward from here, I think is also equally as important as what he knows about football, so that leaves me with a little bit of a question. [...] I certainly hope it’s a good decision, but I’ve got questions at this point.
• SB Nation’s excellent Penn State blog, Black Shoe Diaries, exhibits commendable calm, tinged with wariness:
This is either buying a rising star just before takeoff, the spark of an offensive revolution and an energetic young leader moving to State College — or, conversely — an inexperienced filler hire, made in a panic, to a candidate with the pedigree matching a long list of former Pat-turned-failures before him, and a flight risk to boot in the event things do work out in three years.
And way down in that comments thread, don’t miss the power ranking of Bills one reader would have preferred taking the helm in Happy Valley over O’Brien.