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PSU AD Joyner: O'Brien has 'exceeded expectations' so far by 'just doing everything right'

April 20, 2012 - Cory Giger
UNIVERSITY PARK -- Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner could not be more pleased with the first three months of the Bill O'Brien era.

Joyner and Penn State took a chance by hiring O'Brien, a virtual unknown to college football fans back in January, and there was some initial backlash from fans and alums. But in just three short months, O'Brien has endeared himself to virtually everyone with his coaching, recruiting and PR skills.

"We feel fantastic about it," Joyner said. "It's something that we expected because that's the kind of person he is, and I will say he's even exceeded expectations."

O'Brien has helped win over support through a seemingly neverending series of public appearances, in which he has represented himself and the university in impressive fashion.

"He's a very engaging man who wants to be part of the community, wants to be part of the athletic community, wants to be part of the university educational community, and that's what he does at every turn," Joyner said.

O'Brien has been on the go almost non-stop, including things such as making a 6 a.m. TV appearance Friday to promote today's Blue-White Game.

"I don't think he sleeps," Joyner said. "I'm pretty sure of that. He was doing two jobs at New England and doing both pretty darn well. It's hard for people to keep up with him, he's so efficient and such a hard worker."

Joyner was drawn to O'Brien's communication skills immediately, from their first telephone conversation. As they talked for six or seven hours throughout the interview process, the athletic director said he "saw more and more and more how this guy could handle himself, and I use the word that he is articulate without being verbose."

Joyner's neck was on the line with the hire, and if O'Brien had struggled winning over fans, the AD would be feeling some heat. Instead, Joyner acknowledged that O'Brien's work so far has validated the hire.

"Absolutely," he said. "Almost immediately, at the instant the first press conference in January was over, almost immediately virtually 100 percent of the negative comments about Bill O'Brien specifically just stopped dead in their tracks. And then he's continued to build consensus in people admiring him ever since then."

Over the next few weeks, O'Brien will make 18 appearances as part of Penn State's Coaches Caravan tour. Joyner said the new coach not only was agreeable to making that commitment, but added, "He saw it as a necessity."

His tenure is still in its infancy, and since O'Brien hasn't coached a football game yet, there's no telling how he will handle those situations.

But three months after taking on one of the most difficult challenges in college football coaching history, it's tough to find anyone anywhere who is critical of the job he's done so far.

"He's just doing everything right," Joyner said.

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