After just two seasons as the head coach at Penn State, Bill O’Brien has agreed to return to the NFL and become the head coach of the Houston Texans (via ESPN.com). This move also comes less than four months after praising his players for remaining loyal to him, his coaching staff, and the school.
In a September story by Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel titled “Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is a college coach you can actually trust,” O’Brien talked about his commitment to the school and his players:
“The players who are here now and the guys who were here last year could’ve gone anywhere…They didn’t have to stay at Penn State, but they committed to each other, they committed to Penn State, and they committed to our coaching staff. I felt it was important that they understood that I was committed to them. What are you if you’re not a man of your word?”
In the age of enormous television contracts, the biggest beneficiaries may be the head coaches who make millions of dollar per year. Yet, when they break their promises and abandon their players, there are no repercussions. Meanwhile, players can’t leave for the NFL until after their third year and if they want to change schools they have to sit on the sideline for a year.
In another interview with David Jones of PennLive.com conducted during the season, but only revealed this week, O’Brien said all he cares about “is the kids in [the Penn State] program.” However, he immediately followed that up by adding “as long as I’m the head football coach here.”
That interview also hinted at why O’Brien was quick to jump ship as he vented about people at the school loyal to former head coach Joe Paterno. “I don’t really give a —- what the ‘Paterno people’ think about what I do with this program,” said O’Brien. “I could really care less about what the Paterno faction of people, or whatever you call them, think about what I do with the program. I’m tired of it.”
One reason coaches prefer the professional ranks despite the lack of job security is that they don’t have to deal with university and alumni politics. It sounds like O’Brien did want to be a part of that and once again, it is the players that get screwed.
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