While there were some people who may not have understood the hire of Bill O’Brien at Penn State in the first place, he certainly showed this past season he was without a doubt the right call for the Nittany Lions to try to move on from the scandal that rocked Happy Valley this past year. Off the field, he did he best to create a new culture and give his players a new understanding of what it meant to be a Nittany Lion. On the field, The Nittany Lions finished with eight wins. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment but given the circumstances and the stench surrounding the program, this was a tremendous coaching job by Bill O’Brien which earned him the Big Ten Coach of the Year and has him in the running for National Coach of the Year and rightfully so.
His three best players arguably from last year’s team were playing at Oklahoma, Texas and USC respectively. Not to mention, Penn State lost their first two games of the season against Ohio University and Virginia and at that point it would have been very easy for the players to hang their heads and get down on themselves knowing they really had nothing to play for. O’Brien’s brilliant coaching job will have his name out there this offseason for new jobs, especially given his NFL background and how many openings there are likely to be.”
Bill O’Brien joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta on Mayhem in the AM to talk about the team hanging the banner of the 2012 team with all the other championship banners, on the way the team finished down the stretch, on keeping the momentum going that the program generated this past season, whether he plans on staying at Penn State beyond this year, on the year Matt McGloin had for Penn State this past season, what the locker room was like following the win against Wisconsin and the understanding that his team showed this past year about what they were playing for.
On the team making the decison to hang the banner of the 2012 team with all the other championship banners:
“Our Athletic Director Dave Joyner called me pretty much the day before the game and said that they were going to do that. I felt good about that but I also knew that the other teams on that wall there are undefeated, championship teams and I just wanted to make sure people knew how much respect I had for those teams. At the end of the day this is a special team because of the circumstances that surround this team but those are championship, undefeated teams. It’s a good feeling to have the 2012 team up there.”
On the way the team finished down stretch:
What he has to do to make sure the momentum from this past season carries over into 2013:
“Yeah it’s not going to be easy. I think every year is different so we had a team meeting yesterday and told the team, ‘look the 2013 team has to create its own identity. It has to start pretty much right now and you can’t just try to duplicate what the 12 team did.’ Every team is different. That’s the one thing that I learned in New England, every year is different and every team is different so it won’t be easy going forward, but I know this, we have a lot of good football players on this football team and we will be playing with a brand new quarterback next year, whoever that may be, but at the end of the day we have a lot of kids coming back that have played a lot of football but again we have to have a really good offseason and figure out what the identity of the ’13 team is going to be.”
On the rumors that will likely come up linking him to other coahcing jobs, including ones in the NFL:
“I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State. That’s my plan and that’s what I intend to do.”
What he makes of the season Matt McGloin had:
“He had a good year. From Scranton PA, he’s a tough kid, a competitive kid but really a smart guy. He worked at it, knock on wood he stayed healthy for the most part and every week he got better. He didn’t throw many interceptions, he threw a lot of touchdown passes, he managed the game well and I’m just really proud of the kid and how far he came. He was a walk-on here at Penn State that beat out about four or five guys in years here to get where he is today and its a testament to him.”
What the scene was like in the locker room following the win over Wisconsin:
“It was an unbelievable locker room scene and it was pretty neat to go into overtime to give us a little extra football but the locker room scene was an emotional, fun time because these kids were jumping around. I mean you can imagine. To beat a tough team like Wisconsin, at home, in their last game, it just meant the world to these kids and it was fun to watch.”
On his team receiving the message about what this season was really all about:
“I think so. It was a tough, tough year here, especially if you go back to November but I think these kids, and again it goes back to this Senior class, they’re wise beyond their years. As time went on they realized that it’s not about Bowl Games, it’s about making sure that we do our part to help put an end to child abuse but at the same time go out and play as good of football as we can and like every season we wish we had some plays back and some games back but I think at the end of the day we played pretty good football.”