Penn State: O'Brien arrives, but Bradley no longer on staff
Paterno congratulates new coach, but some former players are angry with the hiring
January 7, 2012 10:00 AM
Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News
Bill O'Brien, right, along with his wife Colleen, walks away from an airplane after landing at University Park Airport in State College, Pa. last night.
By Ron Musselman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It was a day of arrivals and departures at Penn State.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien landed at University Park Airport at 7 p.m. Friday night in a private plane, accompanied by his wife and one son.
They met with acting athletic director Dave Joyner in his office at the Bryce Jordan Center. A source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that O'Brien and Joyner held a conference call with the players.
Penn State will formally introduce O'Brien as the 15th football coach in the university's history today at an 11:30 a.m. news conference.
Meanwhile, longtime assistant coach and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was let go Friday afternoon by Penn State. The rest of the staff's status is unknown.
Joyner met with the coaching staff for about 30 minutes, but he declined to comment as he was leaving the building, saying he would have something to say today.
Most of the assistant coaches declined to comment.
Bradley's lawyer, however, confirmed in a later statement that his client had "been let go" and "is no longer the interim head coach."
Bradley took over as interim coach Nov. 9 after longtime coach Joe Paterno was fired in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, the team's former defensive coordinator.
Paterno congratulated O'Brien in a statement released Friday night by Paterno's family to The Associated Press. The former coach said he respected O'Brien's coaching record and that "Penn State has always been more about than winning" and that he hoped the program's commitment to education and community service would continue.
Several former Nittany Lions, however, reacted angrily Friday to O'Brien's hiring, including LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short, a pair of former WPIAL standouts and Penn State All-Americans.
"I'm done all my PSU stuff will be down before obriens introduction!" Arrington posted on his Twitter account. "We are! No more for me!"
Arrington posted several other tweets, but later apologized for the tone of some of his comments.
Brown University coach Phil Estes, who has worked with O'Brien in the past, believes Penn State made a good hire. O'Brien was interviewed Thursday in State College. The Patriots have a bye in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
"Billy would not take this job if he didn't feel he was up to it, because he already has a great job with the New England Patriots," Estes said. "He's going into a great football program, with a great winning tradition.
"What he has to do is separate himself from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and distance himself from the replacing-a-legend issue in Joe Paterno and keep the focus on Penn State football.
"It won't be easy, it will be a monumental task in fact, but I know Billy can do it."
O'Brien, 42, was in his fifth season with the Patriots but first as offensive coordinator. He is expected to remain with the team through the NFL playoffs. He had college coaching stints as an assistant at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke.
Penn State's past three coaches -- Rip Engle, Paterno and O'Brien -- all have ties to Brown.
"I think it's just a coincidence that they were all from Brown," Estes said. "I do know that Penn State's getting a guy in Billy O'Brien that's very focused and a guy that's going to teach football and teach how to win."
Estes believes O'Brien will make a good first impression when he meets with the players. There is an optional players meeting Sunday, when the team is due back on campus.
"When Billy gets in front of that team and talks to that team, they're going to walk out feeling real good about Billy O'Brien and Penn State football," Estes said. "Believe me, they will know he's genuine and they will know he knows how to win and has coached some of the best in the world. They're going to feel pretty good about themselves when they leave."
Penn State offensive tackle Mike Farrell, a redshirt junior from Shady Side Academy, is still in Pittsburgh, but he is looking forward to meeting O'Brien.
"I think it's very exciting anytime you get somebody coming from the NFL level, especially a guy that's a coach for a team as successful as the New England Patriots," Farrell said.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he was "sad" to lose O'Brien from his coaching staff.
"We have a philosophy in our company that if anyone has an opportunity and we can't match it ... we did have the ability to deny him under our contract, ... but this is one of the great college coaching positions," Kraft told the Boston Herald. "They have their challenges right now.
"Billy is a very high-quality guy, he's got integrity, he's honest, and I'm sad to see him go, but I think they've chosen wisely."
and Twitter @rmusselmanppg. The Associated Press contributed to this report. First Published January 7, 2012 5:00 AM