PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Penn State didn’t lose much this year, despite predictions they would after the sanctions levied against them by the NCAA.
Most of the credit for that goes to head coach Bill O’Brien.
KDKA-TV Sports’ Mike Zappone sat down with the National Coach of the Year and talked about Penn State.
For nearly 50 years, the last thing most Penn State fans worried about losing was their coach to the NFL or anywhere else, which explains some of the shock when O’Brien was talking with NFL teams after his first season as the school’s head coach.
“At the end of the day, all I did was have a couple conversations that I thought were meaningful for both the development of myself and my profession,” O’Brien said. “But also for Penn State.”
If Penn State fans were surprised by the off-season coaching derby, they weren’t alone. O’Brien was learning too as the rumor mill went into overdrive while he was on a family vacation to Disneyworld.
“I don’t think I was very well prepared for it,” he said. “And that’s my fault. In the future, obviously, I’ll try to be better prepared for that and put those rumors to rest as best I can and maybe at the end of the day I let it go too long.”
That’s how O’Brien is, he’s not afraid to be honest, whether it’s being critical of his coaching, lobbying for the resumption of the Pitt-Penn State series or being realistic about how long he plans to be coaching.
O’Brien said he hopes to continue coaching for a long time, until he’s 80 years old.
“I think I’d love to coach for about 40 years and that’s about it total,” he said.
It’s a refreshing balance to life not often heard from big time coaches. Some of it is his personality combined with experience from the challenges life presents. O’Brien and his wife Colleen’s 10-year-old son Jack has a rare disease neurological condition which affects the brain’s development.
“Helping her (Colleen) has given both of us I think a lot of perspective on what’s important in life,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said his wife is a strong woman and it’s her strength that has helped him embraced the challenges of coaching the Penn State football program through the Sandusky-related sanctions.
“It’s a challenge that’s unprecedented,” he said. “It’s a challenge about how these guys, this staff and this group of players, gonna come out of this in three, four years. I think if we come out of that … that’ll bode well for the future of Penn State football.