Penn State people are mad, no furious, with the reported hire of Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as the man who would replace The Man. Which means Penn State fans just don't get it.
And look, PSU people, I'm not mocking you. Not taunting you. Not enjoying your anger or frustration. You're going to see plenty of those people in the next few days, media people and otherwise, people who were so shaken by the Sandusky scandal that they take it out on anything and everything representing Penn State. And I understand their rage, I really do. But I'm not one of them, so don't miss what I'm writing here.
I'm trying to help. Honest. And what occurs to me, from my point on the periphery, is that there are people at Penn State -- even a truly intelligent insider like ex-PSU linebacker LaVar Arrington -- who are so close to the situation that they can't see it for what it is.
And what it is, for Penn State, is impossible.
The administration had no chance to win the press conference, as it's called when the new coach is introduced to acclaim. Whoever that guy is, he wasn't coming to Penn State. Not so soon after ... Sandusky.
It just wasn't going to happen.
The initial hint came way back in November when Joe Paterno was forced out, and the first name to surface was Mike London of Virginia. That's a humble name, Mike London of Virginia. Career record at UVa: 12-13. Four years total as a head coach, the first two at Richmond. And when London was connected to Penn State by media reports, he backtracked as if Penn State was something he almost stepped in.
That was our sign. That was your sign, Penn State fans: This job wasn't going to be filled easily, and as the following two months showed, it wasn't filled easily. Penn State alums didn't want it. Outsiders didn't want it.
Meanwhile, the Penn State administration was trying to conduct its coaching search in privacy, even secrecy, because there was no way the school was going to hire someone with a great resume if that hiring was leaked before it became official. So Penn State did what it could on the down low, and for that Penn State people are mad. I've been getting tweets all morning like this one from a Penn State fan lamenting the "secrecy and arrogance" of the search.
As if there's any other kind, these days.
There are Penn State supporters, LaVar Arrington among them, who insist the job should have gone to interim coach Tom Bradley. And that underscores my earlier point, about some people being too close to the situation to see it clearly.
Tom Bradley was never going to get this job. It would have been outrageous if he had gotten it. And that's not a shot at Tom Bradley, who gets high marks from every media person I've ever talked to about him. But he spent years on staff with Sandusky, and was on staff when this story exploded, and was even the face of the program for the month after the explosion.
That guy can't be given the job on a permanent basis. Not if this school is sincere in its desire -- and the administration sure seems to be sincere -- to put behind it one of the ugliest stories in college football history.
It couldn't be Bradley. It wouldn't be Mike Munchak. Even the sub-.500 coach at a basketball school in the ACC wouldn't touch it.
Other than Bill O'Brien, who was Penn State going to get?
Nobody, that's who. The complaining today from Penn State people is as misguided a reaction as the riot by students the night of Paterno's firing. It's anger for the sake of anger, but it's aimed in the wrong place. Sandusky should be the target. Sandusky, and those who didn't do nearly enough to stop his alleged reign of terror.
This is not Penn State President Rodney Erickson's fault.
This is not Bill O'Brien's fault.
Want to be mad, Penn State? Get mad at Sandusky. Get mad at former president Graham Spanier and former athletics director Tim Curley. Hell, get mad at Joe Paterno.
But if Bill O'Brien truly is your next coach, get behind him, and do it now. You are ... Penn State. Remember?
Time to act like it.