Bill O'Brien, the relatively unknown offensive coordinator of the NFL's New England Patriots, has reported been tapped to replace the fired Joe Paterno as head football coach at Penn State University.
Paterno, who had spent nearly 50 years coaching at State College, was let go in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal last fall.
O'Brien, like Paterno, is a Brown University alumnus who coached at other Football Bowl Subdivision schools, such as Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Duke, before being hired as a coaching assistant by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in 2007.
Friday morning, multiple reports had O'Brien negotiating contract details with Penn State's acting athletic director David Joyner.
But the reported selection of O'Brien to take over the Penn State program was not sitting well with some former Nittany Lion players.
“I don’t want to be affiliated with the university if they don’t choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important… it’s no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC," Brandon Short, a Penn State alum and former New York Giants linebacker, said.
If O'Brien does take the Penn State job, he will be working for two employers, as the Patriots are in the NFL playoffs once again. The Patriots have a bye this weekend and await one of three possible teams(Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, or Cincinnati Bengals) in the AFC Divisional playoff a week from Saturday.
Also, now that the new year has begun, college recruiting reaches a fever pitch for all Division 1 schools, including Penn State. The most critical date is February 1st, when high school seniors can sign national letters of intent with the school of their choice.
There's speculation already about who might replace O'Brien as Patriots offensive coordinator. Josh McDaniels, the man who held the post before O'Brien and currently an assistant with the St. Louis Rams, could make a return to New England.