New Penn State coach O’Brien still focused on duties with Patriots

He may be the man picked to replace legendary college football coach Joe Paterno, but for now, Bill O’Brien is completely invested in the Patriots.

O’Brien is set to take the reigns at Penn State, just as soon as his duties as offensive coordinator for New England are finished. And while he’s excited at the opportunity to lead one of college football’s most historic - yet currently clouded - programs, the man in charge of unleashing Tom Brady upon opposing defenses wouldn’t mind waiting a few more weeks, as long as it meant hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis.

“There is no way that I can stand up in front of our football team and our recruits and talk about loyalty and commitment and then leave the Patriots in the middle of a playoff run or the start of a playoff run,” O’Brien said at his introductory press conference in State College earlier this month. “I have committed to the New England Patriots to see them through that playoff run.”

The notion of waiting around for their new football coach hasn’t sat well with some Nittany Lions fans, but for O’Brien and the Patriots, The Washington Post reports that everything is running smoothly at practice for Sunday’s showdown with the Ravens.

When O’Brien finally does step back into the world of college football, he’ll have to replace one of the sport’s most iconic figures in Paterno. The man who became known for his rolled up khakis and bottlecap glasses led the Nittany Lion program for more than 50 years, amassing more than 400 wins during that span. Unfortunately for Paterno and the university, the rise of sexual assault allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has left Paterno’s legacy and Penn State name tarnished, leaving O’Brien in charge of repairing the school’s image.

It won’t be an easy task, but before O’Brien can think about replacing a living legend, he’s hoping his other football icon will lead him to a victory in Super Bowl XLVI. A lot of offensive coordinators would jump at the chance to have a guy like Brady under center. The man has won three Super Bowl rings and shattered countless records, all while being a sixth-round selection back in 2000. You’ve heard his story ad nauseum, but it’s the combination of Brady’s arm and O’Brien’s mind that could lead the Patriots past the Ravens in the AFC championship game.

When New England’s season finally ends, either this Sunday or on Feb. 6, O’Brien will immediately turn his attention to Happy Valley, where a big-time college program awaits. For now, however, the Patriots coordinator insists his efforts are in the pros, and hopefully ending in a world championship.