New football coach hired at Penn State

Bill O'Brien has risen rapidly in the New England Patriots organization since his arrival there in 2007.

Story highlights

  • Bill O'Brien is hired at Penn State's next football coach
  • The team's quarterback says "players are happy" and the hire is "exciting"
  • Last fall, Penn State trustees fired legendary coach Joe Paterno
  • This followed ex-coach Jerry Sandusky's being charged with sexually abusing boys
Penn State has hired a new permanent coach to head its embattled football program, with the team's quarterback saying that he and other players are "excited" for a "fresh start."
Matt McGinn told CNN affiliate WBRE that he hopes the selection of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will help "erase some of the things that have happened in the past year."
"It should be exciting for everyone," said McGinn, acknowledging that some Penn State alumni have voiced dissatisfaction with the move since O'Brien didn't attend the State College school. "The most important thing is that the players are happy."
O'Brien replaces interim coach Tom Bradley and, more significantly, iconic former coach Joe Paterno.
Paterno was fired by school trustees last fall, days after his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested and accused of sexually abusing young boys over a 14-year period.
That includes a 2002 incident. Former Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary has testified that he saw Sandusky possibly sodomizing a boy, saying that what he saw was "extremely sexual in nature." He told Paterno, who told then-athletic director Tim Curley, according to a grand jury report.
Law enforcement authorities, however, didn't become aware of that allegation until years later.
According to his biography on Patriots.com, the NFL team's official website, the Nittany Lions' new football coach grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and attended Brown University.
He began his coaching career at that Ivy League school, before going on to take jobs at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke. He joined the Patriots in 2007 as a coaching assistant, rapidly rising up the ranks in the subsequent years.
"The Penn State football program has a great legacy and has contributed enormously to our university community," said university President Rodney A. Erickson. "A program of this caliber requires a special kind of leader -- a leader who will embrace that legacy and maintain the university's commitment to excellence on the field and in the classroom. We have that leader in Coach O'Brien, and I look forward to working with him in his new role."