Coach Bill O’Brien Meets with Players at Football Building

Story posted January 8, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by ComRadio PR / Patrick Woo Updated: January 31, 2012

One day after new Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien was introduced, he met with the returning players at Lasch Football Building in a 5 p.m. team meeting Sunday.

Players came out of the meeting raving about O’Brien as a person and as a coach.

“We’re all really excited to get going with this,” offensive lineman John Urschel said with a big smile. “Coach O’Brien seems like a great guy, a great football coach.”

The 42-year-old O’Brien is the 15th head coach in history at Penn State. He will be leaving his role as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots to lead the Nittany Lions.

Media outlets reported the hiring of O’Brien Thursday night around 9 p.m. ET, but Penn State officials were silent for almost 24 hours before confirming the hire via Twitter.

“I don’t think it really matters,” Urschel said about having to find out about the hire through the media. “The important thing is we got to meet our new coach. Guys are really excited and very happy for the future.”

“The monkey’s off our back now,” running back Silas Redd said. “We can get back to focusing on our team and playing football.”

The hiring of O’Brien has been criticized by fans and alumni because of the lack of Penn State ties in O’Brien’s background. He is not immediately seen as “part of the family.”

Center Matt Stankiewitch called O’Brien “a great fit for a Penn State man” citing traits such as being “honest, respectable, a lot of charisma.”

Redd said, “He reminded me of my family. Being disciplined and tough-minded. No nonsense. He wants you to succeed in life not only on the field but off the field.”

 O’Brien will continue his role with the Patriots through the playoff run that could last as long as until Feb. 5 if New England makes it to the Super Bowl, which the players are rooting for despite understanding that the sooner the Patriots lose, the sooner they have their head coach full-time.

“We understand he had a commitment to the Patriots,” Redd said, “and we want him to win the whole thing if he can.”

The man that could benefit the most from the offensive-minded O’Brien is quarterback Matt McGloin.

McGloin in 2011 completed 54 percent of his passes and passed for 1,571 yards while throwing eight touchdowns and five interceptions. The Nittany Lions’ offense was ranked 110th in the nation in scoring at 19.3 points per game, and 96th in passing.

“Some exciting stuff’s going on around here right now,” McGloin said. He also added that he “got chills” while talking about offense and defense with O’Brien.

With the Patriots, O’Brien is working with one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, Tom Brady, who amassed 5,000 yards passing this season.

“It’s one of the best offenses in the league,” McGloin said. O’Brien is expected to change what Penn State does offensively. “I expect that it will be a completely different offense.”

McGloin also gave his take, as a Jets fan, on the Patriots’ playoff run.

“I’m rooting for them to win obviously. Coach O’Brien is our head coach. We want the best for him,” he said. “I think it will help recruiting a little bit.”

To help recruiting, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. has been retained on the new staff. A round of applause broke out when O’Brien made the announcement at his introductory press conference Saturday. Players were especially pleased.

“He called me earlier in the morning before the press conference and let me know he would be coming back,” defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who has a close relationship with Johnson, said. “I was ecstatic.”

Redd also spoke highly of Johnson and confirmed that linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden is also being retained.

“He’s been a great man and gave me advice on my time here,” he said. “I’m so happy for him and Coach Vanderlinden as well chose to stay with us.”

The rest of O’Brien’s staff is expected to be announced this week. O’Brien will coach the Patriots this weekend against the Denver Broncos.

O’Brien’s contract is for five years with a base compensation of $950,000 with a 5-percent increase each season. Included his a $350,000 Nike contract and $1 million a year for radio and television.

O’Brien’s first game as Penn State head coach will be in Beaver Stadium Sept. 1 vs. Ohio University.

John Urschel

Jordan Hill

Matt McGloin

Matt Stankiewitch

Mike Mauti

Silas Redd