Ex-Penn St. players irked over O'Brien
Former Penn State linebackers LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short reacted furiously to the news, voicing support for interim coach Tom Bradley, who had been an assistant under Joe Paterno since 1979.
"I will put my Butkus [Award] in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage," Arrington told the Penn State Rivals.com website, BlueWhite Illustrated.
"Jerseys, anything Penn State, in storage. Wherever Tom Bradley goes, that's the school I will start to put memorabilia up in my home. I'm done. I'm done with Penn State. If they're done with us, I'm done with them."
Penn State plans to announce the hiring of O'Brien at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Saturday. ESPN first reported that the school made its decision Thursday, and the Boston Herald reported that the 42-year-old O'Brien, who has never been a head coach, had begun telling people he accepted the position.
The former teammates said the decision to hire O'Brien, who has no previous ties to the university, is being made by boosters without the input of former players.
Short claimed that Arrington quickly put together a list this week of at least 100 former Nittany Lions who supported Bradley in an effort to sway the coaching search committee.
"Penn State is a family and it is real, and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then they've turned their backs on our entire family," Short said.
Short added that O'Brien will be walking into a "hornets' nest" becoming the coach without the support of the school's former players.
Arrington, Short and former All-America running back D.J. Dozier all argued the university's decision is based on an effort to sever all ties with Paterno in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
"By these people making the decisions the way that they are making them, basically coinciding with everything that's being written about our university, if they get rid of Tom Bradley, that means they, in essence, have accepted the fact that we are all guilty," Arrington said.
Dozier said, "It's politics, it's fallout, it's everything that has nothing to do with a program and continuing to build a solid program."
The website reported that Short was scheduled to meet Friday with acting athletic director Dave Joyner in an apparent bid to push the school to reconsider.
O'Brien will continue to serve as the Patriots' offensive coordinator during the playoffs. The top-seeded Patriots have a bye before they host a playoff game next weekend.
Former defensive coordinator Bradley had been acting as interim head coach since the firing of Paterno on Nov. 9, just days after Sandusky's arrest.
The scandal exploded a week after the 85-year-old Paterno won his 409th game to become the winningest coach in Division I history.