I sat at Penn State coach Bill O’Brien’s introductory press conference Saturday and listened to people ask why he took a job with such negativity surrounding it.
I sat in meetings and talked about what O’Brien should do to help repair the university’s image in addition to coaching the Nittany Lions.
I sat in the press box for every game this past season and covered former head football coach Joe Paterno’s final weeks.
Recently, I’ve sat down and read about a football team and school that some media outlets are deeming “radioactive” — something that people should stay away from.
And when I sit down and think about it, I come to the general conclusion that some people just don’t know what they’re talking about.
Sure, there’s certainly a negative light shining on the Lions’ football program, but that doesn’t mean the head-coaching job is a bad one.
As O’Brien said at his press conference, he’s taking over a team with a rich tradition, great facilities and a stadium that seats more than 100,000 passionate fans.
Before he even began talking about the selling points of the football program, O’Brien said something that seemed a bit different than what many people around the nation have been saying.
“I believe in Penn State,” the new football coach said.
It’s a simple statement, but it’s one of the many things O’Brien said at the press conference that made me feel as though he is a good choice to lead the Lions’ football team.
How many people outside of the Penn State community really believe in the university?
How many people recognize the encouraging things done by many of the young adults yelling “We Are” inside Beaver Stadium?
How many people know that the negativity surrounding the alleged actions of a few isn’t stopping the rest of Penn State from educating, researching and learning — with most of that work preparing students to make a positive impact on the professional world?
When it comes to regaining, maintaining and building the university’s honor, O’Brien can leave that to the thousands of students and many professors who make up Penn State.
A few weeks ago, I read about Penn State professors potentially nearing a cure for leukemia.
A few weeks from now, a years’ worth of work will culminate in millions of dollars raised to help find a cure for pediatric cancer.
There are so many reasons for O’Brien to believe in Penn State, and if he trusts his own belief, his job will be as simple as coaching a group of players how to play a game.
It’s not his job to bring the community together. He doesn’t have to make sure Penn State continues to grow academically.
He has to coach football.
There’s the chance that developments from the ongoing investigation surrounding former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky may affect the team. But we must remember that O’Brien, along with the current Lions’ players, has as little to do with the recent scandal at Penn State as the thousands of students here.
While the law takes its course, O’Brien, the Lions and current students can only move forward and continue to show what makes Penn State a place people can believe in.
But we cannot forget the mistakes made by some that put the university in this situation. There are things O’Brien, the football program and the university’s administrators can learn from the Sandusky scandal.
Everyone has a job to do, and they should perform it to the expectations that come with representing Penn State.
As Tom Bradley — who acted as well as anyone could ask while guiding the Lions as interim coach — said many times: “players play, coaches coach and administrators administrate.”
Well, it’s time for O’Brien to get down to coaching and the administration to handle its duties. The players will certainly play and the rest of the university — students and teachers — will continue to do its work.
It’s a group effort to wipe away any negativity hanging over Penn State, and the new coach should know there shouldn’t be any extra pressure on him.
Let’s remember that one person cannot possibly represent Penn State as a whole.
The actions of one man — whether good or bad — can’t define an entire university and prevent it from continuing to make a positive impact.
Ryan Loy is a senior majoring in journalism. He is The Daily Collegian’s sports chief. His email is email@example.com.