Leave the absurdity of Twitter to best capture the absurdity of the week that follows the conclusion of the NFL regular season.
The coaching carousel starts spinning as NFL bosses are whacked like stoolies in a Mob flick, even ones like Lovie Smith, who is coming off a 10-win season and has been to a Super Bowl.
Penn State fans never had to pay much attention to the ripple effect of those firings — until now.
Bill O’Brien’s name has been linked to a number of openings, including ones in Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Diego –- The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that O’Brien interviewed with the Browns this week — and this has naturally made Nittany Lions fans jumpy.
The O’Brien camp has been eerily quiet, and in that vacuum everything has become magnified as Nittany Lions defensive end Deion Barnes found out late Thursday afternoon.
Barnes, who is coming off a magnificent freshman season, wrote on Twitter, “All u got in this world is your word, once u go back on that I can’t respect u and can’t shake ur hand.”
The words produced a collective grasp across the Twittersphere. Cryptic as they were, the words seemed to indicate that O’Brien had told his players he was leaving or they had received word that he was bolting after just one season at Penn State.
It didn’t take long for Barnes to realize the hysteria he had caused by tweeting a movie quote, and he moved quickly to tell everyone to, you know, chill out.
It is good advice since it is too early to tell how everything with O’Brien plays out. There are compelling reasons why he should stay. There are understandable reasons why he would leave.
Here are three for each argument:
Why O’Brien stays
– He has a chance to be more than just a football coach at Penn State, and the State College area seems like a good fit for O’Brien and his family.
– You can’t win in the NFL without a quarterback, and most of the teams with head-coaching vacancies have questions or serious issues at the most important position in all of sports. And there aren’t any Andrew Lucks or RGIIIs in this 2013 draft.
– O’Brien convinced a lot of freshman and sophomores to stay at Penn State and meet sanctions that had nothing to do with their conduct head on. If he leaves he is just another Xs and Os junkie who is making a money grab or feeding an oversized ego. Or both.
Why O’Brien goes
– If O’Brien is going to make the jump to the NFL and have significant leverage this is the year to do it. An owner would be making a pretty safe bet that O’Brien won’t be overwhelmed by the demand that come with the job of NFL head coach after what he handled last season at Penn State. And his stock never figures to be as high as it is now.
– It’s hard to begrudge someone for wanting the chance to prove himself on his occupation’s biggest stage, and it’s not like O’Brien is just a college coach. He spent five seasons with the Patriots before returning to Penn State. His time with New England may have made him realize how much he would like to go to the Super Bowl as a head coach.
– As wondrous a job as O’Brien did in 2012, let’s face it: that was the easy part. An exceptionally strong senior class helped O’Brien keep the team together after the NCAA punished the football program. And Penn State had enough talent to compete in the Big Ten in a down season for the conference. It will be difficult for O’Brien to coax .500 records out of the Nittany Lions as Penn State deals with the brunt of the sanctions.
– Scott Brown