When Penn State was rocked by arguably the biggest scandal in college sports in 2011, they one thing on most B1G football fans minds was, who will be the guy to lead PSU through this dark time. Many names were tossed about and when the dust settled, they landed on a little know NFL assistant named Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien had no ties to Penn State and had no head coaching experience at the top level of college football. He had a knack for developing quarterbacks and designing great offensive game plans. His passion and desire for football quickly won over most of the PSU faithful, although many in the college football world wondered aloud how long O’Brien would stay at PSU.
Some felt he would bolt for the NFL once a good opportunity arose and others felt he would use PSU as a stepping stone to a bigger named school. Over the course of his two year tenure, his name would come up when any top job became available. Texas, USC, Auburn, the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs were just a few over the past two years that O’Brien was linked too.
O’Brien received a raise and contract extension after his first season in Happy Valley and went as far as telling an Orlando Sentinel reporter after the 2012 season,
“The players who are here now and the guys who were here last year could’ve gone anywhere…They didn’t have to stay at Penn State, but they committed to each other, they committed to Penn State, and they committed to our coaching staff. I felt it was important that they understood that I was committed to them. What are you if you’re not a man of your word?”
Many of the PSU faithful took solace in that quote that O’Brien would be the guy to guide them through the last two years of their probation and return them to top of the college football mountain.
THEN……..it happened. Read More
Well, it was good while it lasted. It was announced today that Ohio State Defensive Line Coach Mike Vrabel will be leaving the Buckeyes to take a position with Bill O’Brien with the Houston Texans as their linebacker coach. Vrabel has just concluded his third year on the OSU coaching staff; in 2011 he was linebacker coach for his friend, interim coach Luke Fickell, and was retained by Urban Meyer the past two years as defensive line coach.
Vrabel’s strengths were his ability to teach, his recognized recruiting skills and his passion for Ohio State. He spent 14 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots, most notably as a linebacker and goal-line tight end.
He is the 2nd coach to move on from Ohio State this year, with Everett Withers previously taking the position of coach at James Madison University. To be honest, because of Mike Vrabel being a Buckeye alum and his passion for the university and the team, this will be a significant loss.
During his three year at Ohio State, the Silver Bullets averaged 22 points per game. His immediate legacy are the stellar players that he recruited to Ohio State and their development. He took a position group with talented players but unknown performances and molded them into one of the team strengths. His long term legacy is that is will always be a Buckeye.
Good luck, Mike. And thank you for everything.
On New Year’s Eve, Penn State lost their head coach to the NFL.
Bill O’Brien, who took on the enormous task of manning a wounded Lions program two years ago, left the college game for the NFL. He will now lead the Houston Texans, another franchise that needs rebuilding (but that’s another story for another time).
When O’Brien arrived at Penn State, many believed that the once-heralded team in Happy Valley was at death’s door. NCAA sanctions and a devastated reputation left the entire school in shambles, and it was going to be at least a decade before they could begin the recovery process.
The critics were wrong.
O’Brien turned PSU around in quick order. A 7-5 record in 2013 was unexpected, and so were two victories over two giants of the Big Ten. Wins over Michigan and Wisconsin, both ranked at the time, highlighted the 2013 season and took away the pain of their 63-14 destruction at the hands of Ohio State.
But now O’Brien is off to greener pastures and Penn State fans are feeling betrayed again.
I share no love for Penn State fans, having watched their willful ignorance over Joe Paterno’s enabling behavior during the crimes of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They threw Sandusky to the wolves as they should have, but repeatedly buried their heads in the sand when shown undeniable proof that Paterno was complicit in allowing the unmentionable crimes to continue unabated.
But with O’Brien’s departure, I feel their pain. Their head coach made promises to Penn State, and he has now broken them by leaving before the end of his contract.
If a player at Penn State decided to leave for a different school after two years, he’d likely be forced to sit out for a full year before he could take the field again. (Yes, I’m aware there are situations that allow a player to avoid being put on a shelf for a year, but that is the exception rather than the rule).
Should a coach of an NCAA program not be held to the same standards as the players he recruits? If a coach convinces a player to attend his university, should both men be asked to stay for the same length of time or face minor penalties?
When Bill O’Brien sat in the home of a recruit in January of 2012 and told him that he would be a part of the rebirth at Penn State, there was no mention that the coach might be gone by the end of the player’s sophomore year at PSU.
That player will not have an easy time changing schools, now that his coach has abandoned him. The NCAA has rules that will make his life difficult if he wishes to transfer to a different school (it goes well beyond sitting out a year and deep into bureaucracy). Even if he is skilled enough to succeed at the next level, laws forbid him from jumping to the NFL until he is three years removed from his high school football years.
That being said, is it time to place rules on college coaches that leave their programs before their contracts expire? Should coaches have to sit out a year before they can take on another job within the college ranks?
Obviously, the NCAA cannot mandate rules in the NFL for such situation – unless Roger Goodell behaves like he did towards Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, having doled out suspensions for both men when they entered the NFL. But within the NCAA, can the same rules be applied to coaches and players?
Yes, the NCAA rule book is already a mess and it should be tightened up immediately. I propose that the rules for coaches are included in the next set of changes. Read More
What a show put on by the Buckeyes! We wrap up quite a night in The Shoe as the Buckeyes wallop Penn State and we look forward to the final four games of the regular season. We’ll also take another peak at the BCS and see where the Buckeyes stand nationally and how they can get themselves into the National Championship game. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
You can’t always get what you want
How often do we ask for the Buckeyes to perform to the fullest of their potential and show the world what we all feel they are capable of? We sit and ponder the scenarios of “If this guy can do this and that guy can do that…” in hopes of seeing it all come together. Saturday night was one of those times where it all clicked and the proverbial light bulb turned on.
As a complete unit with Braxton Miller at quarterback and Carlos Hyde at running back, this is only the third game we have seen the Buckeye offense play together. Think about that for a second. After drilling Penn state for 63 points (42 in the first half!) this is an offense that is just now, from a gelling together and games played standpoint, heading into early-mid season form.
The lyrics may say that “you can’t always get what you want”, but I’m here to tell you we are getting what we need. We are getting an offense that is about to hit their high point with four (five including the Big Ten Championship game) games left to play. You couldn’t ask for more.
Anatomy of a force
Braxton Miller is back. I don’t want to hear anything else about it. He is officially the Braxton Miller that was the Heisman frontrunner coming into the season. It took a while and some missed time to get there, but he is here. His feet are back. He looks as tough as ever taking on tacklers. His arm is like a rocket. And the most importantly, he is making great decisions and has his completion percentage is over 70%. Read More
Ohio State and Penn State met for the 29th time in their illustrious histories. The game was anything but illustrious for Penn State, who found themselves on the wrong end of a 63-14 beatdown that extended OSU’s winning streak to 20 wins. Braxton Miller had a spectacular day in all phases of the game today: he threw 18/24 for 252 yards and three touchdowns, while running 11 times for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg had a very pedestrian day throwing 23 passes for only 12 completions, 112 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Carlos Hyde continued to dominate on the ground, dropping 147 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 carries. Devin Smith’s 5 receptions for 50 yards led the Buckeyes in the air, while Corey “Philly” Brown continued his solid play with 4 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. For Penn State, Bill Belton picked up 98 yards on 22 carries, while Allen Robinson picked up 9 receptions for 99 yards.
Ohio State started with the ball and immediately began to attack the edges of the Penn State defense. Braxton Miller threw three straight passes in the flat spread around to Carlos Hyde and Evan Spencer in an obvious attempt to exploit a weakness in the PSU defense. The strategy netted nearly 10 yards per play and quickly moved the Buckeyes down the field, setting up a long pass play to a wide open Devin Smith that came within a half yard of scoring. It was no big deal for Carlos Hyde to power the ball into the endzone to give the Buckeyes the first points of the day.
Bill O’Brien’s offense immediately came to work on the next possession. Using a balanced attack of throwing and running, the Nittany Lions moved the ball 64 yards into the redzone. OSU’s defense looked as if they were already back on their heels and that it was only a matter of time for a PSU score. However, PSU QB Christian Hackenberg tossed a pass to the endzone that was underthrown. Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown reached up and intercepted the pass in the endzone for a touchback.
The Penn State defense stood tall following the turnover. They caught Braxton in the backfield on first down after a bad zone-read play. That eventually led to a third and 16 that saw Braxton scramble out for a 12 yard gain. Things weren’t much more successful on the other end of the field for the PSU offense. The Buckeye defense stiffened enough to force a three and out of their own.
The #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0) host the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-1) for a Saturday evening game in Columbus.
After winning the first two games of the season, the Nits have alternated L’s with W’s, with their last game an exciting 43-40 win over TTUN two weeks ago. Penn State had a bye week to recover from that game and to prepare for this week’s contest.
This is Coach Bill O’Brien’s (BOB) 2nd year, and he seems to be continuing last year’s success (8-4) under challenging coaching conditions. Although the Lions feature Thunder (Zack Zwinak, 6’1” 240) and Lightning (Bill Belton, 5’10” 205) as their running backs, freshman QB Christian Hackenberg truly leads this offense. Hackenberg is averaging 284 YPG (3rd in B1G) on 26 attempts per game.
His key receiver is junior WR Allen Robinson (43 rec, 16.5 YPC, 5 TD). Robinson is 6’3” and 210 pounds. That presents some physical match up challenges. As you may guess, PSU throws to their TE’s quite a bit, with the 6’7” Jesse James and 6’3” Kyle Carter being the main targets.
Historically, Penn State’s offense has averaged slightly more yards passing than rushing. Not under BOB. In the past season and a half, PSU is running a yardage ratio of 65/35 in favor of passing. This is not your Pa’s Penn State offense by any means.
Meanwhile, Ohio State is coming off a 2nd half will-imposing win against Iowa. It was a return to 2012, as Miller and Hyde carried the running game with 42 carries for 251 yards between them.
Ohio State on Offense Read More
As we inch closer to the opening kickoff on Saturday, no team in the B1G is more intriguing or crucial to the success of the B1G than the Penn State Nittany Lions. Even though they are not eligible for the post season, a successful season would only strengthen the conference as a whole.
As Bill O’Brien enters into his second season, I sat down for a few minuets with statecollege.com writer, Ben Jones, and gathered a few of his thoughts heading into the 2013 season. Don’t forget to follow Ben on Twitter, @Ben_Jones88
1. Heading into the offseason, how much angst was there in Happy Valley waiting to see if Bill O’Brien would stay or not?
I think there was a fair amount of stress for fans the first few weeks after the offseason. Once O’Brien had his sitdown of sorts with the media to hash a lot of the rumor and speculation out I think that for the most part the fear left. Will he ever leave? Probably. But I think for now people expect him to stick around for the next few years.
2. In your opinion, is O’Brien the man to lead PSU through these sanctions and out the other side to relevancy again?
O’Brien is the kind of coach that I think Urban Meyer was. Unknown, and had a chance to prove himself and did and it was all “glory” from there. I’m not saying O’Brien is the next Urba Meyer but I think you can see qualities that he has that other elite coaches have. I think he stays through the sanctions and how Penn State comes out of them will depend on his future with the program. If he were to stay though I think that there is evidence to suggest he would do very well in Happy Valley.
3. Where does the QB battle stand heading into game week? Read More
Slight variation in schedule… think of this as TWTW meets Wednesday’s regular SBP. Here’s the tunes behind the guy behind the guy.
2013 started almost the same way that every other year has started since I can remember… with a slate of B1G Ten games, highlighting how many people who live in the midwest want to flee to warmer climes for some semblance of a vacation. I still haven’t figured out how the scheduling geniuses who have an entire slate of games and “bowl week” to work with decide to run four of them at semi-simultaneous time times, though.
You’ll note that I said “almost”… one of the major differences this year was the lack of Buckeye football; in case you hadn’t heard, they had a one year vacation from the post-season. What’s intriguing about that fact is that we seemingly had it shoved down our throats throughout the regular season by the good folks at the four letter network, and yet I can count on one hand the times I heard the words “Ohio State” or “Buckeyes” thus far in the bowl season. Penn State, too, although you’d think that one of the things that would be covered would be how teams playing got their losses this year; the Rose Bowl’s discussion included the review of their overtime losses, but didn’t mention by name two of the teams that handed those to them.
I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised, though… you want the games to be celebrations of the teams that are playing, and it’d be a shame to see anything hamper the narrative of next Monday’s “Championship” game; reminding folks of another undefeated team might cast a pall on that sacred moment. However, I don’t seem to remember Southern Cal being erased from the post season even when they were ineligible- their 10-2 record last year was certainly a topic of commentary.
Anywho… Ohio State hasn’t lost a game in over a year, and that can’t be taken away from them or their fans.
So let’s dive into the spectacle that was B1G Tuesday, taking a look at all of the outcomes and then reflecting on what this might “mean” for the conference and college football as a whole. Remember, the results you witnessed might have been different should the two outsider programs be in the mix this season… B1G fans, how are those “you’ve got no bowl game” taunts holding up for you these days?