STATE COLLEGE (KDKA/AP) — Two months after the dismissal of Joe Paterno, Penn State introduced its new head football coach during a press conference late Saturday morning.
Bill O’Brien is not only taking over a program from a legendary coach, he also gets a program that is steering its way through federal, NCAA and Big Ten inquiries, not to mention criminal proceedings against former administrators.
“When you step on campus here, you immediately feel how special this place is,” O’Brien said. “I know that I have a lot of confidence in my ability to lead us through what some people would say is a tough time right now, but I feel like a pretty mentally tough guy. I feel like I can do this and lead this program and I can’t wait to get started.”
Paterno and Graham Spanier, the university’s former president, were dismissed by the school’s Board of Trustees back in November in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal surrounding retired Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky is facing dozens of charges, and last month waived his preliminary hearing to trial in Centre County.
KDKA’s Bob Pompeani reports:
O’Brien, 42, is the university’s first new head football coach in nearly a half century. He has spent the past four years with the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator.
This is his first head coaching job.
During Saturday’s press conference, O’Brien promised hard work and honor with the job.
“Defensively, we will continue the great tradition of defenses that have gone before us here. It will be a multiple defense, it will be a defense that’s creative and it’ll be a defense that creates multiple looks for the offense and makes it very difficult on the offense,” he said. “Offensively, we will be a game plan offense. The offensive philosophy will be to find out what our players do best, and we’ll get going on that as soon as we can by film evaluation and getting to know our players and put them in position to take advantage of these strengths.”
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He was also one of the few men associated with the football program to actually acknowledge the previous head coach, who remains a college coaching legend.
“I grew up following the Penn State football program. I was the type of person who always loved to watch them because of the helmets, the uniforms, the black cleats, no names on the back of the jerseys and also because of the man on the sidelines, Coach Paterno,” added O’Brien. “There will never be enough words to say what he did for this program as far as wins, as far as off the field graduation, graduating kids, graduating student athletes every single year. I can’t wait to meet him and I look forward to that as soon as I can get that done.”
O’Brien will remain with the New England during their playoff run.
Meanwhile, interim head coach Tom Bradley was dismissed from the program. He released a statement on Saturday to say goodbye.
It reads in part: “As a coach, I am most proud of how many of our players have gone onto lead lives dedicated to making this world a better place. I have always believed that football was just one part of preparing student athletes for the next chapter in their lives. Those chapters – lived by our players after the games ended – define the Penn State football tradition.
”I wish Coach O’Brien all the best. No matter the challenges that the university may face, Penn State will always have my support. This is forever my home and forever my family. It is important that we come together to support our players and our university. Now is the time to demonstrate that we are – and always will be – Penn State.”
Penn State finished a 9-4 campaign with a 30-14 loss in the TicketCity Bowl to Houston on Jan. 2. The Nittany Lions relied on defense much of the year after the offense struggled with a two-quarterback system.
O’Brien’s five-year contract, which was finalized Friday, includes base compensation starting at $950,000, with a five percent increase each season. O’Brien will also collect another $1 million a year for radio and television work, as well as a $350,000 Nike contract.
He will retain assistant coach Larry Johnson from Paterno’s staff to coach the defensive line.
PSU Board: Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier Out
Sandusky Waives Preliminary Hearing
Bradley Takes Interim Coaching Job “With Mixed Emotions”
Report: PSU To Hire Patriots’ O’Brien As New Coach
Penn State Hires Bill O’Brien To Lead Football Program
MORE: KDKA Coverage Of The Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal
LINK: Penn State Nittany Lions
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