The announcement that Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will be leaving the team to become the head coach at Penn State broke late on Thursday night, so we’re just starting to get reactions from the team he’s leaving behind.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one of those weighing in. Kraft confirmed a PFT report that O’Brien would remain with the team through the playoffs before heading off to State College during a conversation with Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. The owner also said that the team had the contractual right to block O’Brien from leaving by matching the contract offer, but that they didn’t exercise it.
“We have a philosophy in our company, that if anyone has an opportunity and we can’t match it – we did have the ability to deny him under our contract – but this is one of the great college coaching positions,” Kraft said. “They have their challenges right now. Billy is a very high quality guy, he’s got integrity, he’s honest, and I’m sad to see him go but I think they’ve chosen wisely.”
Kraft also said that he’s happy that the team has become a breeding ground for players and coaches wanted by other teams. Those coaches haven’t done particularly well running their own programs — college or pro — since leaving the Patriots fold, a trend that O’Brien is obviously hoping he can change with the Nittany Lions.