UNIVERSITY PARK -- Shortly after Bill O'Brien said hello to the Nittany Nation, Tom Bradley said his heartfelt goodbyes.
Bradley received "a lot of serious consideration" to become Penn State's head coach, acting athletic director Dave Joyner said. The school decided to go with O'Brien instead, and a few minutes after Saturday's news conference ended, Bradley issued a farewell statement to his beloved alma mater.
"Penn State has been my life," wrote Bradley, who is not expected to be retained on O'Brien's staff. "In my nearly four decades in Happy Valley, I went from a kid who loved football to a man who cherished and respected the game for the life lessons it taught.
"I learned many of those lessons under a great mentor and coach in Joe Paterno, and I have dedicated my life to trying to help other young men, like myself, realize their potential both on and off the football field."
Bradley, a 1979 PSU graduate, finished up his 33rd season on the staff serving as the interim head coach after Paterno was fired Nov. 9. A popular figure among the fan base for years, he received high praise from all circles for how he handled the difficult task of taking over the program amidst the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Bradley interviewed for the head coaching job and impressed Joyner.
"Tom Bradley is a fine person," Joyner said. "He's a great coach. And when I talked to him [Friday], as expected, he was very magnanimous, he was very gracious. He talked to me about maintaining the Penn State family."
Bradley, a Johnstown native, has been part of that family since becoming a PSU player in 1975.
"As a former player, I want to acknowledge and thank my teammates who have remained lifelong friends and confidants," he wrote in his statement. "Our friendship didn't end when we hung up our blue and white jerseys -- it only became stronger. As for my fellow coaches, the bond we share is irreplaceable in my life. And for that, I am incredibly grateful."
Bradley began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for PSU in 1979. He worked his way up on the staff, coaching various position players until taking over as defensive coordinator for the retired Sandusky in 2000.
Bradley has flirted with other jobs over the years, and last year he was in the running at Pitt and Connecticut but did not land either head coaching position. He had always dreamed of succeeding Paterno, just not the way it occurred this past season, and he went 1-3 as the Lions' interim coach.
"As a coach, I am most proud of how many of our players have gone onto lead lives dedicated to making this world a better place," Bradley wrote. "I have always believed that football was just one part of preparing student athletes for the next chapter in their lives.
"Those chapters -- lived by our players after the games ended -- define the Penn State football tradition. I want to thank every one of our players who gave their talent, effort and most importantly, heart to Penn State. It has been my life's privilege to coach you."
Bradley thanked the university administration and had a special message to the fans.
"Finally, to our fans and alumni, your support has been incredible, not just this year but for the 37 years I have been here as a player and a coach," he wrote. "You make Beaver Stadium come alive. You are our heart. Make sure that our team -- and our opponents -- never forget it."
Bradley closed his statement by wishing O'Brien "all the best," then offered some assurance in his farewell comments.
"No matter the challenges that the university may face, Penn State will always have my support," he wrote. "This is forever my home and forever my family. It is important that we come together to support our players and our university. Now is the time to demonstrate that we are -- and always will be -- Penn State."
SUBHD: AD update
Joyner still has the "acting" in front of his athletic director title, and although he didn't flat out say he wants the job full time, it certainly sounds that way.
"I've told the president [Rodney Erickson], 'As long as you need me, I'm happy to be here and I would like to be here.' ... I'm committed for the long term if that opportunity is appropriate," Joyner said.
Legal issues appear to be the reason why Joyner still has the title of acting AD.
"Tim Curley still has the title of athletic director, and so there are reasons that has to stay that way right now," he said without going into detail.
Curley has been charged with perjury in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and remains employed by PSU but is on administrative leave.
College coaches like to know who their AD and president will be, and Joyner was asked if candidates brought up concerns about that given his future remains unclear. Joyner confirmed that was the case and added he told the candidates similar answers to his comments above.
SUBHD: Ganter staying
Longtime Penn Stater Fran Ganter will remain as associate athletic director for football. He just finished his fourth year in that position after spending 37 years as a player and coach for the Lions.
SUBHD: No word on Vandy
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson will remain on the staff, but there was no indication Saturday whether O'Brien will or will not keep linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden.
O'Brien plans to meet with the assistant coaches and will determine their futures in the next few days as he finalizes his staff.