It's not personal. It's just business.
All within the Penn State community would do well to reflect on that famous movie quote before hitting out at former PSU head coach Bill O'Brien, who recently took the Houston Texans job. The truth of the matter is that O'Brien was never going to be a long-term fit at the university. He was, by taking a job that not many wanted and one that was thankless in some ways, auditioning for a bigger gig.
And a bigger gig is exactly what he landed.
I've seen the social media posts and blogs talking about O'Brien betraying the program that put him in the national spotlight. I've read posts that featured opinions on how O'Brien lacked character and/or loyalty, articles written by people who will never be given an opportunity to lead a top-tier college football program or a NFL team.
All Penn State people having any emotional reaction to O'Brien leaving for higher ground have to be honest about it and admit that they're only upset because the team played well over the past two years despite the NCAA sanctions that could have crippled the program. Not a single one of you would be even discussing loyalty had PSU decided to part ways with O'Brien after the team won a handful of games in two seasons.
As much as some may not like to hear/read it, Penn State football is not, in fact, anything special. It's just a big college football program no different than any other. For every Penn State, there is an Alabama, a Texas, a USC, dare I say even an Ohio State and a Michigan.
O'Brien had, outside of what is now his former job, no ties to the university. He doesn't owe Penn State anything other than what he provided the program. He was paid well to guide PSU through the storm caused by the Jerry Sandusky scandal. That O'Brien did, and he did it with style and class.
I don't know the extent of the impact the so-called “Paterno people” had on O'Brien deciding to move on. It's hardly a secret that what I and others have labeled as the Cult of Joe Paterno remains alive and well throughout the university, alumni associations and State College, PA. Some, for whatever inconceivable reasons, just cannot move on.
It's that type of mentality, my fellow Penn State family members, that got us in this mess in the first place.
O'Brien choosing to move on after just two years at University Park is telling in many ways. Most notably as it pertains to this piece, his decision should serve as a reminder that big time college football is, even at Penn State, more so a business than it is anything else. It's a business for television providers, advertisers, local companies and, yes, a business for head coaches.
Nick Saban didn't agree to a new contract with Alabama last month merely because he loves the school and the program oh so much, after all.
O'Brien was the right man at the right time for a program and a university going through its darkest hour. He is leaving the school better off than how he found it. Anybody who feels connected to PSU for any reason should only wish him the best in his future endeavors.
Penn State will never again have a figure like Joe Paterno leading the program. That's a plus in several aspects. Instead of searching to replace Joe Pa, PSU now needs to find the next O'Brien, the next person who will make the team fun to watch and have it able to compete on Saturday afternoons and evenings.
Black shoes are optional.