Bill O'Brien supported Kyle Baublitz in his decision to forego his remaining year of playing eligibility in 2014.
Baublitz, a Central York High School graduate and secondary education major, will instead look to begin his teaching career somewhere next fall.
So Baublitz's father, Steven, is hesitant to criticize O'Brien on a career-changing move to the Houston Texans.
"You have to do what you think is right. That's what Kyle did. And coach O'Brien understood that. He respected Kyle for that. He respected Kyle for the decision," Steven Baublitz said by phone Wednesday afternoon when reacting to the news of O'Brien bolting for the NFL.
Kyle Baublitz couldn't be reached for comment. Neither could Dallastown High School graduate Ben Kline, who is a redshirt sophomore linebacker for the Nittany Lions.
Steven Baublitz said Kyle was driving back to State College a bit earlier than expected to avoid a potential snow storm later in the week and to prepare for his Monday start of student teaching at State College High School, where he'll instruct a United States history course for the remainder of the school year.
Baublitz was a starter for most of the 2013 season and played in all 12 games, finishing with 14 solo tackles, nine assisted tackles and three sacks. Perhaps the biggest play of his career came in the four-overtime victory against Michigan this season when he blocked an overtime field goal that kept Penn State alive.
"Penn State is a solid program. We have no regrets that Kyle played for Penn State," Steven Baublitz said. "He could've played for a bunch of different schools. He made the right choice when he chose Penn State. You see it on TV. Your hear it on the news. When you actually live it, it's real. It's as advertised."
And Baublitz said O'Brien upheld that standard, even if it was just for two years.
"He had a meeting with all the parents when he first took over. When I first heard him I thought this is a guy who says all the right things. Will he back it up? He did. He's a great coach."
Fitzkee and Powell weigh in: Scott Fitzkee, a Red Lion High School graduate and former Philadelphia Eagle who also played for Joe Paterno in the late 1970s, agrees.
"I thought he (O'Brien) did a fabulous job. I'm a big fan of his. He came into a tough situation, probably a little bit tougher than expected," Fitzkee said. "I guess he just decided to move on and who knows why? I like the guy."
Former Penn State player and York High graduate Andre Powell, however, had more choice words. Powell, now 44 and running a marketing company in Wisconsin, played linebacker for Joe Paterno from 1987 through 1991.
"I'll be totally blunt. I wasn't a fan of him (O'Brien) getting the job in the first place because it was only gonna be until the right job came open. He almost left last year to Cleveland," Powell said. "From a coaching background, he's a good fit, but for college he wasn't a good hire because he's a pro football coach."
While Fitzkee approves of the job O'Brien did in two years leading the Lions, he does have similar thoughts to Powell.
"That's the problem with getting somebody like that. I don't know if they're a good fit for college football," Fitzkee said. "I agree with Andre if they get a college guy who's gonna stick around for 20 years because that's what we're used to. We're not used to two years and gone. We knew last year he was interested in the NFL because he talked to people."
Moving forward, Powell hopes the school will find a coach who will stick around a little longer and return the program to national prominence.
"You never know it's the right fit until they're there, but find someone young enough but who is seasoned enough that they're going to recruit. Being a fan now for a long time I want a program that's competitive on a national basis. There will be guys speculated with Penn State roots, but if we can get a guy who will build a powerhouse program and do it the right way ... I want to win. I'm tired of 7-5 or 6-6 seasons. I want to be on a national level competing for championships."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.