Our friends at College Football Talk have been hitting every angle on the Penn State scandal, but we felt the need to touch on head coach Bill O’Brien’s statement in the wake of Monday’s announcement of severe NCAA penalties against the football program.
O’Brien passed on a chance to interview for the Jaguars head coaching job in January so that he could take the position at Penn State. The former Patriots offensive coordinator likely wouldn’t have a hard time getting back into the NFL coaching mix if he decided that he wasn’t up for the task of leading the Nittany Lions through four years of limited scholarships and no bowl games. O’Brien made it clear in his statement that he won’t be leaving State College, though.
“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the university forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence,” O’Brien said in the statement. “I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes. I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university.”
The state of the Penn State football program ranks somewhere behind the lives of far too many young victims of Jerry Sandusky and negligent university officials on the list of things that should concern people, but if there is to be any future for football at the school they need a strong leader to steer them through this time. O’Brien’s contract reportedly makes it difficult for him to jump ship but he should nonetheless be commended for honoring his commitment in the face of the sanctions and wanting to be a leader at a school that has desperately needed one for almost two decades.