State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Bill O’Brien’s 6 Principles of Penn State Football

by on February 15, 2013 6:40 AM

Bill O’Brien has a clear vision for Penn State football. And it is one he has been sharing a lot lately.

Since he announced in January that he was staying at Penn State, the second-year Nittany Lion head coach has hit the road, spreading the blue and white gospel.

Recruits, parents, booster banquets, coaches groups, awards dinners. They’ve all heard what OB thinks about PSU and football, and his expectations for them both.

Along the way, some new news has slipped – like Penn State might play a game in Ireland in the near future – but for the most part O’Brien has stuck to his core message.

His philosophy is straightforward and honed on 21 years of coaching – at five different major colleges and a stint with arguably the best football coach in the land, Bill Belichick. O’Brien’s learning curve has been the highest the past 13 months, no doubt, as his first experience as a head coach has been trial by fire.

But more than anyone, O’Brien has needed a clear set of principles, given the microscope under which his program has been placed by so many: the national media, the NCAA, players who might consider transferring, four-star recruits and walk-ons who are considering a $140,000 price tag to play football for the Nittany Lions. They all are looking at Penn State differently.

A mission statement is SOP these days, whether you are Starbucks – “to inspire and nurture the human spirit: one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” – or a football team. O’Brien studied organizational management at Brown, so he certainly has the academic underpinnings to set forth and share his own agenda and set of expectations with a large group. Make that groups, as in the 5,000-plus members of the American Football Coaches Association.

O’Brien last month delivered a presentation on the meat and potatoes of his coaching philosophy to a large body of AFCA coaches in Nashville. They ate it up.

As Travis Haney of ESPN Tweeted after O’Brien’s speech, “Coaches raving coming out of BOB’s speech @ convention. Guy is impressive. Dogged.”

Here’s the core of what O’Brien shared with those coaches, straight from his PowerPoint:


1. Football should be fun and fulfilling for the student athlete involved.

2. Football must be part of the educational experience at Penn State.

3. Football should be played to win. We will never accept losing at Penn State.

4. No individual in the program is ever bigger than the team/program.

5. We will promote a team/family atmosphere through loyalty and communication.

6. We will have a standard of performance for the players on and off the field.


Recent Columns:

Penn State Football's 5:16 a.m. "Party Rock Anthem," Feb. 11, 2013

NCAA Sanctions: Four Down and Twelve to Go, Feb. 7, 2013

O'Brien Continues to Coach at Breakneck Pace, Feb. 3, 2013

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
Next Article
Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Fall to Iowa in Tale Of Two Seasons
February 15, 2013 6:00 AM
by Ben Jones
Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Fall to Iowa in Tale Of Two Seasons
Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors expressed therein do not necessarily state or reflect those of

order food online