Coaching change means turnover for Penn State merchandise

bmilazzo@centredaily.comJanuary 4, 2014 

— They’re not O’Brien’s Lions anymore, so merchandise bearing his name has been marked down.

When Bill O’Brien announced that he’d be leaving Penn State to take the head coaching position with the Houston Texans, some local businesses felt the impact.

Caroline Gummo at The Family Clothesline on East College Avenue said that all hats, sweaters, T-shirts, bumper stickers and other items that carry phrases such as “BILLIEVE” and “O’Brien’s Lions” have been discounted.

“We found out on New Year’s Eve that he was leaving, and the next day we put up the stuff for sale,” Gummo said. “I think we’re looking forward to a new coach and where we can go with that like we did with O’Brien.”

On Saturday, the rumor mill was busy with expectations that former Penn State player Al Golden would be leaving his job as coach of the Miami Hurricanes and returning to his alma mater.

Penn State senior Tyler Henderson stepped into The Family Clothesline on Friday and walked right past the rack of O’Brien gear that was marked 50 percent off.

“I have no ill feelings for the guy — I think he did a respectable job for what he had to work with — but there’s no need to buy this stuff,” said Henderson, who was looking for a Penn State hockey jersey.

McClanahan’s Penn State Room had no comment, and the Student Book Store on East College Avenue reported minimal impact.

General Manager John Lindo said the store didn’t jump on the bandwagon of selling a lot of O-Brien-related merchandise.

“We had no real reason why we didn’t,” he said. “We just didn’t sell it.”

But Lindo explained that the store is not opposed to selling new merchandise that supports the new coach.

“Perhaps if the new coach has a catchy name, we will,” he said. “I think it could be a good seller.”

Sales have been slow at The Family Clothesline, largely due to the holiday break as most students are out of town, Gummo said. But she expects sales to pop back up once students roll back to town later this month.

“We haven’t really been down this road before with getting a new coach and trying to target that,” Gummo said. “We don’t really have that large coach turnover, so it’s interesting for us and a little bit of a learning experience.”

When Penn State names its new football coach, Gummo said that change would present itself with new revenue opportunities for stores like hers.

“We’ll just sell new items that support the new coach,” she said.

When that time comes, the entire company would work as a team to help create phases, slogans and nicknames that will sell, Gummo said.

“It’s just another time for us to be creative,” Gummo said. “It’s a store effort, and we have a staff of students as well to help us.”

And despite the recent coaching changes, Gummo said that there is still a big demand for Joe Paterno gear as well.

“That’s not something that’s slowing down for us,” Gummo said. “It’s a void no one can really fill.”

There is an entire section in the store dedicated to the late coach.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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