NCAA Football

Why Bill O’Brien is the perfect man to rebuild the Penn State football program

Bill O’Brien has arguably the most difficult job on the planet right now. He has been chosen to rebuild the Penn State Nittany Lions football program after it was handed severe NCAA sanctions for their part in the cover-up of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

But Penn State couldn’t have a better man in place for the job, and I am not even certain they know it yet.

I am not talking recruiting or about the X’s and O’s of coaching a team; I am not even talking about wins and losses.

What O’Brien has to offer the Nittany Lions is something that has been severely lacking over the last decade, and something without which they will never be able to rebuild.

I am talking about perspective, and O’Brien has just that.

Ten years ago, Bill and Colleen O’Brien were blessed with a son named Jack. Jack has been diagnosed with a rare genetic brain disorder, called Lissencephaly.

Jack cannot walk, talk, or feed himself. His brain is delayed in telling his body what to do. He has up to 10 seizures per day-thousands per year-some lasting seconds, some lasting minutes. There are several times throughout a typical 24-hour period that he will simply stop breathing.

It has to be a terrifying life for a parent.

However, the O’Briens consider the situation with their oldest son to be “one of the best things to ever happen to us [because] it added so much perspective to our lives.”


O’Brien understands that football isn’t life. He understands how important, or unimportant, it truly can be.

For him, it’s not the $60 million dollar sanctions the Nittany Lions face, nor the 4-year postseason bowl ban. It’s not the loss of 20 scholarships per year for the next four years. It’s not even the decision of some of his players to transfer out of State College.

For Bill O’Brien, it’s about family. It’s about life. And for him, life isn’t just about football.

He understands what is truly important.

He has perspective.

And that perspective and ability to see the big picture is precisely why Bill O’Brien is the perfect man to rebuild the Penn State Nittany Lions program.