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There is a saying in sports coaching that you don’t want to be the person to replace the legend, but rather, it is better to replace the guy that replaced the legend. And this is exactly why Bill O’Brien is the perfect person to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.On the surface, O’Brien makes no sense. He is not a big name, taking over one of the most storied programs in college football. He has no head coaching experience. He hasn’t coached in the college ranks since 2006. And the last time he was in college (Offensive Coordinator at Duke), his teams went a combined 1-22.
On top of that, at a time when Penn State needs to be going door-to-door to land top high school recruits, O’Brien is going to be coaching the New England Patriots offence for the next month. And when he does finally arrive in Happy Valley, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski aren’t coming with him.
So if you are Penn State, why hire O’Brien? Maybe because he will be easy to replace.
If the O’Brien turns out to be a successful coach, great. But if he falls flat on his face, Penn State can go through this process again in two years. And in 2013, smoke from the Jerry Sandusky fire will be gone. And big name college coaches, who won’t touch the program now, will be more willing to come to the rescue.
The only thing Penn State needs right now is time and distance. They need to get to a point where Sandusky and Paterno are behind them. O’Brien gives Penn State that chance.
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