The Penn State family has a new leader. A familar face for football fans. Bill O’Brien has taken over the position held by longtime football coach Joe Paterno.
The New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator calls it an unbelievable opportunity. The official announcement was made at a news conference Saturday morning in State College. Coach Bill O’Brien said he’s excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to get started.
“We are Penn State!” Words that every Nittany Lion lives by, spoken by the newest member of the Penn State family. Bill O’Brien was named head coach of the university’s football team. A position he called unbelievable.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am to get started, meet the team, meet the football alumns and meet all the people that make this university so special,” said Coach Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien is no stranger to the game. He’s the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, working side by side with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
O’Brien was introduced as Penn State’s head coach at a news conference in State College. He replaces longtime coach Joe Paterno, who led the Nittany Lions for more than 50 years. O’Brien said he grew up watching the blue and white, and admiring Paterno, who many call an icon.
“There will never be enough words to say what he did for this team as far as graduates, kids and athletes every year. I can’t wait to meet him,” said O’Brien.
Speaking of Joe Pa, Coach O’Brien said he knows the former coach is irreplacable in many ways. All of the fans Newswatch 16 spoke with agreed, and some said they’re having a hard time knowing someone new has taken over.
“I’ll always support Joe Pa’s team, but I’ll never come around to the way he was treated or be able to support a new coach I don’t think,” said Kerri Dearolf of York.
Others said they’ll give O’Brien a chance. Matthew Grisewood bought a Joe Paterno cardboard cut-out. He said he’ll always be a Joe Pa fan but is thinking positively.
“He seems like a very good guy. He graduated from Brown so he has a good education. That’s where Joe Pa came from, so hopefully he can show some of the same qualities that Joe Pa had,” said Matthew Grisewood of Mountain Top.
“Last semester was a tough one with everything going on, but I think we’re taking a step in the right direction with the way we’re headed,” said Mitch Piper of Pittsburgh.
“Here you have a guy that’s taken championship teams, as the Offensive Coordinator, to the Superbowl. I mean, talk about a pedigree,” said Hal Kersteen of Pittsburgh.
O’Brien said he is a loyal coach, so he will remain Offensive Coordinator for the Patriots for the rest of their season, but he said any break he has, he will be there for Penn State.