On Jan. 7, 2012, Bill O’Brien, upon arriving at Penn State, said: “There is only one Joe Paterno. What I am going to try to do is be Bill O’Brien.” But that wasn’t good enough for the “Paterno faction.”
In the days, months and years that followed, those who seem to think Paterno should continue coaching Penn State football from the grave criticized every O’Brien decision that deviated from “the Paterno way.” And in his Dec. 4, interview with PennLive, O’Brien said, “I’m tired of it,” and he is gone.
In two short years, O’Brien, his assistant coaches and his loyal players rescued a football program on the verge of collapse. But that wasn’t good enough for the “Paterno faction” either; Joe wouldn’t have done it that way. So the badgering, the criticism and the second-guessing continued as recently as the departure of assistant Ron Vanderlinden.
The resignation of O’Brien, caused in large part by the child-like, temper tantrums of the “Paterno faction,” has been another setback for a program on life support but moving in the right direction. One can only hope that responsible leadership will emerge and that the Paterno family will finally make it known that it is time for the petty, behind-the-scenes sniping to end, that the Paterno era is over and that James Franklin deserves to be free to be himself. His performance at Vanderbilt speaks to his competence as a coach. And as the saying goes: There is more than one way to skin a cat.