Penn State hires O'Brien as next coach

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 06, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions leaves the field following the 2010 Capital One Bowl against the LSU Tigers at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Penn State won 19-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Penn State has hired New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as its head coach, the first change in leadership for the storied football program in nearly a half-century. The announcement caps a turbulent two-month period that began with the firing of Hall of Famer Joe Paterno on Nov. 9 in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Not only is O'Brien replacing Division I's winningest coach, but he must also guide a program shrouded in uncertainty. Besides the criminal investigation into Sandusky, the NCAA has launched its own inquiry. The 42-year-old O'Brien was set to be formally announced at a news conference Saturday morning. Penn State hadn't hired a head football coach in 46 seasons. In between, the 85-year-old Paterno won 409 games and was elected to the Hall of Fame. ''I am thrilled to be the head coach of the Penn State football program,'' O'Brien said in a statement. ''As head coach of this special football program, it is my responsibility to ensure that this program represents the highest level of character, respect and integrity in everything we do.'' He said that encompassed coaches, players and anyone else involved in the 125-year-old football program. ''There is tremendous pride in Penn State football and (we) will never, ever take that for granted,'' O'Brien said.
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