[ESPN] O’Brien will just have to suck it up. Because what he did this season at Penn State will be talked about until the Allegheny Mountains crumble.
Into the teeth of the worst college football scandal in American history, into a sex-scandal mess the National Guard couldn’t have cleaned up, Bill O’Brien pulled off a football miracle: He made you forget Penn State was radioactive.
O’Brien went 8-4 in the middle of nuclear winter. He kept popping open umbrellas while it rained bowling balls. He made a numb town feel again. That’s why he’s either the coach of the year in college football this season or you melt down the trophy.
He hates that, too. “I’d vote for Urban Meyer.”
What does Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly think? “Absolutely — it’s Bill O’Brien.”
Imagine what O’Brien was up against: The town was in flames, its exit ramps clogged with cars, sirens going hoarse, and here was O’Brien, trying to open a fireworks stand. Former players were incensed that the school hadn’t hired a Penn State man. All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington seethed: “If they’re done with us, I’m done with them.”
Meanwhile, across town, the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial was festering.
Welcome to Happy Valley!
“People told me, ‘Just know what you’re getting into,’” O’Brien says, “but I didn’t know the NCAA was going to come in here and do what they did.”
Four years: no bowls. Four years: 10 fewer scholarships. Fine: $60M. Twelve players, good ones, bolted before the first practice. But O’Brien got to work writing his How to Coach in a Tsunami handbook. Full Story
Oh, nowwwww ESPN wants to be friends.
It’s like we dated the hottest girl in the world, who broke up with us, but is now “really, really, sorry” and wants to “hang out” (aka have sex).
Penn State went from the school/team/”culture” easiest to bash and destroy, to now the school/team/”culture” that is easiest to love and have sympathy for. We went from hated by the national media, to admired (kinda). Penn State, in a year, did a complete 360 within the national media. We’re now the “feel-good” story of the year.
And I kinda like it.
Whatever. You don’t have to like Rick Reilly, or even forgive Rick Reilly, or ESPN for that matter, but you can appreciate this article. I respect Reilly for writing this, and ESPN.com for publishing this. I don’t believe in ESPN having a personal vendetta against Penn State. I just think a lot of people, a lot of important people, made quick judgments and made gigantic mistakes when dealing with the scandal a little over a year ago.
At least some of them, like Reilly, still has the balls to go out on a limb and support Penn State. I can respect that. I think.