PSU's O'Brien 'all business'
College Football Videos
Until his name was blasted over TV and the Internet as Penn State's new football coach, most of America knew Bill O'Brien mainly as the New England Patriots assistant coach who screamed at his considerably more famous quarterback Tom Brady on the sideline during a game against the Washington Redskins a few weeks ago.
In Warwick, R.I., Mickey Kwiatkowski watched a replay of the spat and enjoyed it immensely.
"My jaw was on my chest," said Kwiatkowski, who coached O'Brien as a defensive end and linebacker at Brown University and gave him his first coaching job. "I said, 'Oh, my God. You go, O'B!' "
The Penn State search committee headed by acting athletic director Dave Joyner seemed just as enthused and presumably learned a few more things about O'Brien, 42, enough to name him successor to the legendary Joe Paterno.
O'Brien couldn't be reached for comment.
Penn State scheduled a news conference for 11:30 this morning to introduce O'Brien. It will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Amid the general surprise and reviews of the choice ranging from approval to extreme dislike, Kwiatkowski was ecstatic.
"The circumstances that presented themselves were so unique," he said. "This opportunity doesn't come along to a young guy -- who truly deserves it -- very often. They're getting a great guy, and I hope they give him a chance.
"He's a kid that I love who I've grown tremendously to respect. He always seemed to do the right thing. Never an issue of gray. When his eligibility ended, I immediately said, 'Come help us.' He has a great amount of dignity, a great amount of self-awareness, and he doesn't lose sight of what he's involved in."
As for his football mind, O'Brien, the Patriots' offensive coordinator, is "a really good tactical coach, excellent," said retired quarterback Trent Dilfer, an NFL analyst for ESPN. "As good as I see in the NFL right now."
It might not seem like a challenge coaching Brady, who is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks and a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But this year he exceeded 5,000 passing yards for the first time in his career, and the Patriots have the No. 2 offense in the league.
O'Brien in four years worked his way up from offensive assistant to wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator, the latest assistant groomed by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for a high-profile head coaching job. But the combined record of Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels is not especially glittering.
Crennel, Mangini and McDaniels went a combined 68-104 as NFL head coaches. Weis was 35-27 as Notre Dame head coach but just 16-21 in his last three seasons.
Dilfer said he told a reporter last year, "This Bill O'Brien, he's something else. I love what he's doing."
Playing at Brown, O'Brien "asked a lot of questions, and I liked that he had the self-confidence to explore things with the coaching staff," Kwiatkowski said. "I never got the feeling he was intimidated, unprepared. He was right on point."
After his eligibility ran out, O'Brien still had a few classes to take to graduate. Kwiatkowski said he hired him as his "full-time" tight ends coach "on a part-time salary." O'Brien had to work with friends who were still players, a potentially awkward situation.
"It could have been tough for an ordinary kid, but he didn't have a problem with it," Kwiatkowski said. "When Billy stepped on the field, he was all business. These were guys who were his friends, guys he walked around campus with, but they knew he was to be respected. It was like, 'This is football. This is what we do, and I'm gonna coach you.'"
O'Brien remained at Brown for a year after Kwiatkowski was fired, coaching linebackers. He then held various assistant's jobs at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke before going to New England in 2007.
"He's a very qualified guy," said Ralph Friedgen, who worked with O'Brien when both were assistants at Georgia Tech and hired him a few years after becoming head coach at Maryland. "Very bright, energetic, hard-working. He's coached at both levels and succeeded at both levels.
"He does a great job relating to people, and I think he's a very good motivator. He's a problem solver. He's competitive, and he's emotional. ... I think he knows when to apply the whip and when to click the horses."Additional Information:
-- Coaching experience: 1993-94, assistant, tight ends/inside linebackers, Brown; 1995-98, offensive graduate assistant, Georgia Tech; 1999-2001, running backs/recruiting coordinator, Georgia Tech; 2001-02 assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Georgia Tech; 2003-04, running backs, Maryland; 2005-06, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Duke. 2007, offensive assistant, New England Patriots; 2008, wide receivers, Patriots; 2009-10 quarterbacks, Patriots; 2011, offensive coordinator/quarterback, Patriots.
-- Notable: Linebacker and defensive end at Brown (1990-92). ... In his first season at Maryland, the Terrapins finished second in the ACC in rushing and defeated West Virginia in Gator Bowl. ... During two-years as offensive coordinator, Georgia Tech played in a bowl game each season. ... In 2008, Patriots wide receivers posted their third-highest yardage output in franchise history. ... This season, the Patriots finished third in the NFL in scoring at 32.1 points per game, second in yards per game with 428 and enter the playoffs as the AFC's top seed.
-- Personal: Born Oct. 23, 1969, in Dorchester, Mass. ... Has a wife, Colleen, and sons, Jack and Michael.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Web-savvy terrorists have success luring U.S. recruits with social media
- North Side toymaker Digital Dream Labs starts strong in 1st holiday season
- Pirates showing interest in starting pitcher Masterson
- Pitt’s surge goes for naught as No. 11 Purdue prevails
- Mt. Pleasant Area School Board puts limit on taxes for 2016-17
- Monessen Civic Center to host ‘Christmas Show’
- Stylish, inexpensive dress takes television newsrooms by storm
- Automakers feast on deals in November
- Pittsburgh City Council advances $1M study of buildings
- Believe in Connellsville contest begins
- Overseas data, financial shares lead stocks to strong December start