Who should replace O’Brien?
If Bill O’Brien takes the Houston Texans coaching job, who should Penn State try and get to replace him?
The Board of Trustees can’t seem to figure out how to hire a new president, but that probably isn’t as attractive a job as head football coach. Bill O’Brien handled the worst circumstances any college coach has ever faced, and managed two winning seasons. He doesn’t leave the cupboard full, but not bare, either, especially on offense, and PSU is still a pretty good coaching gig. With scholarships returning and the bowl ban lifted possibly as early as next year, the Lions may be able to land a pretty good catch.
While O’Brien kept the ship from sinking, and far more than that, he made no bones about eventually wanting to head back to the NFL. So, PSU should probably turn to the college ranks for someone who has shown little or no interest in the NFL. Miami Coach Al Golden, a PSU guy who did well at Temple, should get a long look, if he’s interested in trying to take his alma mater back to top tier status. He could perhaps be convinced to get in it for the long haul.
Successful coaches who care about academics at smaller schools should also get a good look. The importance of stressing academics and running a clean program cannot be overstated, both to continue to remove NCAA sanctions and to rally the alumni, who took such pride in that under Joe Paterno.
York Countian Randy Edsall is a local favorite, but with Maryland moving to the Big Ten and his program moving up, it’s tough to see that as a move he would want to make at this time. Tennessee Titans head guy Mike Munchak, a Scranton native and PSU All-American, was discussed a good bit two years ago, but had just gotten the Titans job, and said he wasn’t interested in coming back to State College. Should he be shown the door in Tennessee, that could change.
Whoever comes on board, if O’Brien does indeed leave, will have to fill at least three assistant positions now vacant, and may have to fill others depending on whether he wants to keep the current staff, and whether they want to stay. It would seem wise to keep as many of the guys there now as possible to maintain stability for the players and program.
This is head spinning stuff in any case. For a school that didn’t changes coaches in 46 years that now is facing doing so twice in 24 months, it may prove overwhelming.