Editor's Note: What do you think of Penn State's selection of Bill O'Brien as the new head football coach? Comment below.
The name is not entirely unfamiliar - the guy coaches for a major NFL team after all - but the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator is hardly a household moniker like Joe Paterno.
An official announcement still outstanding, the news broke late Thursday that O'Brien would replace Paterno as head coach of the Penn State football team.
So, in the wake of college football's biggest scandal, is O'Brien the guy to repair the university's image?
Tough to say, according to a former player and two York County high school football coaches.
"I don't know a whole lot about the guy," Kevin Myers, Dallastown's coach, said Friday morning. "It's hard for me to sit back and say, 'This is good. This is bad.' They obviously had to make the decision. Hopefully it works out well."
For former player Scott Fitzkee, the news is a bit disappointing. Fitzkee, a Red Lion High School graduate who was a wide receiver for Penn State in the 1970s, said he'd hoped Tom Bradley would get the job. Bradley, the team's defensive coordinator who took over for Paterno, also interviewed.
Fitzkee said he would have preferred to see the university select a coach with a connection to the program - which O'Brien apparently does not have.
"Maybe that was their plan -- get someone who has absolutely no affiliation, clean everything out and start fresh," Fitzkee said. "Whether it's a smart move, time will tell."
Even though O'Brien is a virtual unknown, Myers said, the announcement is still probably good news for prospective and current players - including Ben Kline, a Dallastown graduate and linebacker on the Penn State team.
"They can kind of get a fresh start in the spring," Myers said.
Shawn Heinold, head football coach at York High, said he, too, is unfamiliar with O'Brien. But, Heinold said, he's hopeful the new coach will be able to carry on Penn State's tradition of emphasizing academics and good behavior among its football players.
"It's going to be a challenge to restore their image," Heinold said. "But, you know, I'm sure Penn State feels he's the right guy. Hopefully they'll be able to do that."
Despite the disappointment, Fitzkee said he believes the Penn State community will rally behind the university's decision. O'Brien will win over alumni by keeping Paterno's academic standards intact and winning football games, Fitzkee said.
"We have to trust that they are doing what they feel is the best for the football program and the university. We have to give the guy a chance," he said.
- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.