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The Bill O'Brien Era: The Lowlights

Bill O'Brien's tenure as Penn State head coach was 44 years less than his predecessor. Despite its briefness, the O'Brien era was an eventful two years that offered many memorable moments.


September 1, 2012- Ohio turns the tables on Penn State
It didn't take long for Bill O'Brien to win over Penn State fans, but a season-opening loss to Ohio University could have made for a very short honeymoon. Penn State didn't necessarily perform poorly- Ohio was just the better team that day. Either way, a loss to a MAC team to start a new era is not the best way to get a new regime off on the right foot.

December 2012 - January 2013- The initial search
Bill O'Brien flirts with the NFL after his first season as the head coach at Penn State. He merely did what anyone should have done- listened and learned more about a potential opportunity. He ultimately came back to Penn State, but not before giving the impression his time at Penn State would be rather limited.

October 5, 2013 - Penn State's first loss to Indiana in program history
It was bound to happen at some point. Penn State had defeated Indiana every time they faced them since joining the Big Ten, and that streak couldn't go on forever. However, it didn't make the first loss to the Hoosiers any less maddening. Facing one of the worst run defenses in the nation, O'Brien's game plan saw Christian Hackenberg throw the ball 55 times, in one of the rare games he looked like a true freshman. Penn State repeatedly shot itself in the foot throughout the game, before having the wheel come completely off in the fourth quarter in the 44-24 loss.

October 26, 2013- Learning what it felt like to be on the opposite side of 63-14
One of the greatest offense in college football history put on a show in a 63-14 dismantling of Ohio State in the 1994 season. Nearly 20 years later, Penn State would find itself on the wrong end of that score. The Nittany Lions didn't look like they deserved to be on the same field as Ohio State that night. The team came out with a look of a deer in the headlights and was not prepared to play a team of Ohio State's caliber.

December 3, 2013- Reports of linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden's dismissal begin to surface
Penn State fans were still riding high after an improbable victory against Wisconsin. But those good feelings came crashing down after the bizarre dismissal of the top linebackers coach in the nation. Ron Vanderlinden had been at Penn State since 2001, and in that time had developed a slew of Penn State legends who would go one to become the cream of the crop in the NFL. The one silver lining that came from Vandy's departure was that a coaching overhaul signaled that O'Brien was committed to staying in Happy Valley for another season. A few short weeks later, that sentiment turned out to be wrong.