Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should,
We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good.
-from Rudyard Kipling's "The Lesson"
Kipling's poem recounts how a forgotten war should have taught Britain lessons about its military and imperial governance, and, in the same manner, Bill O'Brien's two-year tenure should have taught Nittany Nation lessons of its own.
He taught us that college football is a dirty business full of enough avarice and self-dealing to make a Wall Street banker cringe.
Contracts don't matter. Commitments mean nothing, and anything is acceptable, provided it makes you better off or is part of your life-long dream.
That is the sport's guiding ethos, and it's best that the students and players learn it as soon as they can.
We also learned that in such an environment, it is best to be skeptical and keep things at arm's length - to not appear too excited, lavish praise before it is earned and, most important, to not pay up front.
Bill O'Brien was one sharp dealer for sure. He taught us about our culture, too. We love the self-promoting swell who's the epitome of cool - even if he is a consummate jerk - and we hate the plodding square who honors his commitments and discharges his duties.
We all know it's better to be friends with the cool guy than the smart guy, and no one is cooler than Bill O'Brien today. The media and bloggers all say so.
Most of all, O'Brien taught us about ourselves and that the NCAA was right about one thing: It was all about football for us. We saw the massive failures in corporate governance at Penn State, the obscene spectacle of the sport, the lack of rigor in the education, the exorbitant cost of it all and the crushing debts for us and our children needed to pay for it.
In short, we saw the rot that has invaded all of higher education, of which Penn State is only one example. We saw it, had an opportunity to reform it and did nothing. Some teary-eyed, chest thumping sentiments and an 8-4 season banished those troubling thoughts and had us dreaming of bowl games and championships to come.
Thinking about issues is work and the complexities of reform are nothing to the intricacies of that shiny new offense on the field.
So, as Bill O'Brien packs his family into their van and heads for hot, humid Houston, let us heartily clap him on the back and say, "Thank you!" for he's given us no end of a lesson, if we're only willing to learn.
If we are willing to learn - if we can learn - then with a lot of hard work and the better part of a decade, we might have something worthy of the name "Pennsylvania State University."
O'Brien lied to players, community
Are any of us really shocked by Bill O'Brien's abrupt departure from Penn State?
There is really nothing abrupt about this. I personally have no problem with a coach wanting to further his career and have a dream to coach in the NFL. What I do have a problem with is lying about your commitments. O'Brien lied to the PSU community, his players and most recently, new recruits.
Two years ago, he was welcomed here with open arms. T-shirts were printed with his name and were worn all over campus. He was praised for his coaching abilities - and rightly so - and for coming into such a difficult situation.
I must be missing why he recently made such harsh comments about Paterno loyalists. This was his football team, and I myself threw my support behind him and his new program. Perhaps something went wrong somewhere, and maybe we will find out why he bailed. Maybe there is a larger issue here.
I do wish to close my comments to this man with this statement: Because you lied and left before you fulfilled what you said you would, don't let the Nittany Lion's tail hit you on your way out of town.
Coach followed mentor's lead
"A man's word is his bond." "A man is only as good as his word."
Sadly, these are ideals that are no longer true.
Case in point: Bill O'Brien, former head coach at PSU. Up until a month ago, O'Brien was quoted as saying, "I'm not leaving."
In fact, he was miffed at questions and comments brought up by those he called, "Paterno people" when it came to anything concerning his tenure as head coach. But why are we surprised? Wasn't O'Brien an underling of the infamous Bill Belichick - a coach known for the biggest cheating scandal in national football history?
I can see he learned well from Belichick. It was evident as he told possible recruits for the Penn State football team that he was staying at PSU. I'm not sure either man knows the meaning of truth and honor.
But it's all for naught, and Penn State will once again be looking to fill a void that no one can fill, and I don't mean the one left by O'Brien.
There will never be another Joe Paterno.
So I'll close with another saying that perhaps fits this situation best: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"
PSU gambled, lost
Let's all get this right: Bill O'Brien knew he wanted to go into the NFL as a head coach from the start while taking the head coaching job at Penn State, and Penn State knew that he wanted to ultimately go back to the NFL as a head coach but gambled on him anyway - hoping that once he settled in he would have a change of heart.
Well, we know now that he never intended on staying at Penn State. He was entertaining thoughts of jumping ship after the first year. Knowing he never intended to stay anyway, why did he take the job in the first place?
He did an injustice to Penn State. Everyone believed in this guy, and all along he had his own agenda. Well, he's moving on, and we should all move on and hope that the powers that be at Penn State do better this next time around in selecting a coach who doesn't have the NFL on his mind from the start.
Mike Rago, Altoona
Let Giger, Les Hart run program
I enjoyed Neil Rudel's fly-over commentary. But he forgot to fly over the real coaches that Penn State should hire.
They live right here.
Penn State should not worry about replacing Bill O'Brien with a present college coach. The perfect coach lives right in Altoona. Over the past number of years, this character has demonstrated that he knows everything about everything. He knew everything that Coach Paterno should have done at Penn State during Paterno's tenure, and he even had a few suggestions for Coach O'Brien during his short term.
Yes, this omniscient savant is none other than the Mirror's own Cory Giger.
Since he knows everything about everything, recruiting would be no problem for him: Recruits would flock to play for him. Since he always knows what to do with regard to football game management, he would never make the mistakes that he told us Paterno and O'Brien did. He would surely produce an NCAA championship team immediately.
For his first assistant, another all-knowing sports strategist lives right in our area. This is none other than Les Hart of Duncansville, who also has shown over the years that he knows everything about everything regarding Penn State sports. (Actually, we need less of Les in the Mirror.)
Another benefit of hiring these two know-it-alls is that during the winter offseason in their spare time they could easily take over the Penn State men's basketball program, since their encyclopedic knowledge would allow them to produce nothing but championship teams and would save the costs of a separate basketball coaching staff.
Penn State is really missing the boat if it fails to hire Cory Giger and Les Hart to run its football program. They would certainly be the perfect coaches to take over this struggling program.
'Good riddance, Bill O'Brien'
Bill O'Brien - leaving Penn State. This is front-page news on on Jan. 1 on altoonamirror.com.
Once again, we see where a commitment means nothing. Granted, this has been going on for years. We fans and supporters listened to all the hyperbole about how he was the right person at the time for the job.
A recent article in the Mirror quoted his college coach vowing that after a year, people would be saying how lucky the university was to get a guy like Billy O'Brien. Now I guess he will be saying how lucky the Houston Texans are. If this is luck, he can keep it. It's always about the money.
I realize there are many people saying what a great asset he has been to the university and the football team, how he loved the school and the area.
In my opinion, he has passed on to these young men that a contract means nothing.
You could say he did stay for two years. I say the only reason he stayed the extra year was his buyout clause was almost three times more last year than now. Hopefully, the next coach will give more than one year to his first recruiting class.
I say good riddance, Bill O'Brien.
Jim Flick, Greencastle
Allow Sunday hunting, once a year
A lot has been said about hunting on Sundays in Pennsylvania, both pro and con. I'm not sure whether the state Legislature or the Game Commission would decide this.
I would like to make a simple request to whomever would make this decision. Please just let us hunters hunt only one Sunday of the year, not the entire fall hunting season. Change the antlered deer rifle season to begin on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and let us hunt the next day, Sunday. Then revert back to the normal schedule.
By doing that, folks that work Monday through Friday and students could hunt the two best days of the deer season without losing any work or school.
A simple compromise could make lots of Pennsylvania folks happy, both hunters and non-hunters.