When you think of "disciples" of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, you think of certain guys: Nick Saban. Charlie Weis. Kirk Ferentz. Eric Mangini. Romeo Crennel.
These guys share a lot of similarities with Belichick, both on and off the field. Yeah, they're all tough guys who care for their players, but arguably the most notable way is how they handle the media.
These guys are quiet, reserved. They will confront the media on occasion, but for the most part they tell the press JUUUUUUST what they need to hear. Not because they're assholes, but because why should those not involved with the team know what's going on in the team's inner circle?
In that way, Bill O'Brien is nothing like Belichick or anyone else in his coaching tree.
In a press conference at Beaver Stadium on Monday, O'Brien knew he was going to face an onslaught of questions pertaining to his last week. And unlike his old boss in Foxboro, O'Brien went on the attack.
O'Brien opened the presser with what almost seemed like a monologue. For 15 minutes, BoB answered questions not directly from the media, but the indirect questions that have been posed by the Nittany Nation.
"If you're so loyal, why'd you speak to the Eagles and Browns?"
"Was the reported $1.3 million given to you by Penn State alumni Terry Pegula the reason you came back?"
"Did you really demand that acting Athletic Director David Joyner be fired as a stipulation for your return?"
For 15 candid, uninterrupted minutes, O'Brien answered with an openness that you never see from, say, Saban or Weis.
Where does his loyalty lie? "This is a top 10 football program," O'Brien remarked, "This is one of the best academic institutions in the world. And I am very proud to be the football coach."
That $1.3 million? "That's malarkey." If it was about money, "I'd not be sitting here right now."
As for Joyner and President Rodney Erickson? They have his support. "I believe in a chain of command. Dr. Erickson is the president of the university, and I have a ton of respect for him. Dr. Joyner is the head of the athletic department, and I have a ton of respect for him."
That statement was reinforced after, when Joyner entertained questions from the media and said their working relationship is "outstanding," and that they talk "several times a week, even during the season."
As the presser continued, the floor was opened to the media. Aside from the questions he couldn't answer pertaining to recruiting and one question about the lawsuit PA Governor Tom Corbett filed against the NCAA, O'Brien continued to answer questions with uncanny openness.
Whether it be the seven new recruits on campus and how he wants them to, "get off on the right foot academically," RB Bill Belton ("you can tell he went home over Christmas and really worked), informing the media that Curtis Dukes will be leaving the team for non-academic reasons or emphatically stating that he did not receive a penny from anyone, O'Brien answered any and all questions posed to him.
O'Brien also stated that, while he did speak to NFL teams, he never was offered any jobs.
O'Brien ended by stating that he wasn't a "genie." And he didn't have a "crystal ball." However, right now, his loyalty lies with PSU.
"I love coaching these kids. I enjoy being the head football coach at Penn State."
Is Bill O'Brien eventually going to leave Penn State for the NFL? I don't know, and I don't think Bill O'Brien knows. When O'Brien needs to deal with that, he will.
But for right now, Bill O'Brien is the head coach at Penn State.