The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Z_CNHI News Service

January 7, 2014

As Paterno's successor, O'Brien didn't get his due at Penn State

(Continued)

For O’Brien the job included presiding over an emotional break between his predecessor, a football icon, and those who worshiped his achievements. It’s a scene that's almost always marked by regret, disappointment and bitterness. Pity those who follow The Man.

I recall when Ray Perkins left the New York Giants in 1983 to return to Alabama to take over for Paul W. Bryant, who passed away shortly after announcing his retirement. Many in the state were still grieving when Perkins began making a few seemingly  minor changes.

First, Perkins moved the coaching tower from which Bryant observed practice to a remote spot. The fans recoiled. The reaction was the same  when Perkins made a slight modification in the players’ football gear.

The changes were too early and insensitive for the public, especially one that was still mourning. Perkins lost key fan support.

The situation was similar, although the circumstances far different, after Coach Bob Knight’s forced exit from Indiana. To this day, Knight’s following remains fervent in the Hoosier State. Coaches that bring home major championships become part of a state’s history and reputation, rightly or wrongly. Indiana has never recovered from that divisive parting – a wound that refuses to heal.

That’s part of what made O’Brien’s challenge so big. Despite Paterno's flaws and mistakes, he was larger than life. He meant so much to a university and state, it was unreasonable to think that fans could transition quickly to a new regime. Old allegiances die hard.

O’Brien has shown once again that a coach never wants to be the one who follows The Coach.

“You can print this,” he told Jones. “You can print that I don’t really give a (expletive) what the ‘Paterno people’ think about what I do with this program. I’ve done everything I can to show respect to Coach Paterno - everything in my power. So I (couldn't) really care less  about what the Paterno faction of people, or whatever you call them, think about what I do with the program. I’m tired of it.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service
  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Sideshows involving Rice and Dungy stain NFL's image

    Pro football training camps should be all about, well, football. But the talk around the NFL is about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's two-game suspension, Tony Dungy's indelicate remarks about Michael Sam and Jim Irsay's largesse. What kind of league is Roger Goodell running?

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
Free Press news updates
Special Promotions
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Poll