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Friday, January 6, 2012
Former PSU players upset with O'Brien hire

By Brian Bennett

New England assistant Bill O'Brien hasn't officially been hired yet by Penn State, but some former Nittany Lions players are already voicing their displeasure with the choice and the process that led to it.

Bill O'Brien
Penn State hopes new coach Bill O'Brien's experience coaching with Tom Brady and the Patriots will be enticing for recruits.
Former Penn State linebacker Brandon Short told USA Today that he and two other prominent ex-players will meet with interim athletic director Dave Joyner today.

"There is a tangible standard at Penn State that this poor (O'Brien) guy knows nothing about,'' Short told the paper. "I feel badly for him (because) he is clueless and will not have the support of the majority of the Lettermen. This is a hornet's nest (for him).'

O'Brien, who was a longtime ACC assistant before joining the Patriots, has no ties to Penn State. Short also said Joyner's attitude during the search was a problem, describing him as "arrogant, nonchalant and egotistical attitude by anyone who approached him.''

"It shows he wasn't concerned about getting our point of view,'' Short said. "Dave Joyner is not qualified to be athletic director.''

Former star defensive player LaVar Arrington is also upset with the hire. Here's what he told Blue White Illustrated:

"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."

Arrington later tweeted: "Alums I will always love you and the Penn State I knew. But until there's a new board and new leadership they can have their corrupt/disgusting school that they've created."

Judging from the e-mails, comments and tweets I've seen, most Penn State fans are underwhelmed -- to say the least -- at the news of O'Brien's hire. That doesn't mean he won't turn out to be a great coach, but he and Penn State have some convincing to do.

His first challenge will be convincing recruits it's OK to come to State College. ESPN recruiting analyst Jared Shanker writes that O'Brien has a lot of work ahead of him. Several prospects have either decommitted or said they are keeping their options open, and others have ties to the former assistants.
Plus, with the Patriots poised for a long playoff run after clinching the top seed in the AFC and a first-round bye, O'Brien will have to juggle building a staff at Penn State, recruiting high school seniors and planning for whichever team the Patriots will face next weekend.

The best-case scenario for the Nittany Lions is O'Brien can turn his full attention to Penn State on Jan. 16, which gives him less than three full weeks before recruits can sign.

But Shanker writes that O'Brien's pedigree in the pros and relationship with Tom Brady could be attractive to recruits, whom he can sell on reaching their NFL potential. And at least Penn State finally has a permanent head coach, more than two months after Joe Paterno was fired.

Now all the school and new coach has to do is convince fans and former players that Bill O'Brien is the right guy.