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O’Brien showing leadership skills

Commentary

February 17, 2013
The Altoona Mirror

There is no question but that Coach Bill O'Brien has faced more challenging situations that he had to overcome despite the very harsh sanctions.

The man is brilliant and a tactician who knows where he wants to take this football program now and in the coming years.

What he accomplished in 2012 has NCAA President Mark Emmert's hair standing on end and on the verge of insanity.

Colleges and universities all had their eyes on O'Brien in 2012 and probably felt sympathy for him, his staff and players.

But they all learned that Penn State can face adversity and overcome it. With the senior football leadership, they pulled together and kept this team afloat. O'Brien's personality is everywhere on this program.

Tell me if there is another team out there right now that gets its players out in the harsh, cold early mornings at 5:30 a.m. in workout suits and wool hats and does agility drills and pushes heavy duty sleds to build up team confidence and bonding.

These kids are giving it all for O'Brien and his staff. In short, they love this coach.

The program has some hurdles in 2014 through 2016 to overcome, but I am confident it will emerge with that spirit of the corps.

I met O'Brien during the Coaches Caravan at Penn State Altoona last year. Don't be fooled by those steel blue eyes and dimple on the chin. This man's character is an example for anyone to emulate and be successful.

Athletic Director Dave Joyner deserves credit as well.

Les Hart

Duncansville

O'Brien missed best chance to leave

With the recent head coaching openings after the end of the NFL season, one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel was Penn State's Bill O'Brien.

O'Brien decided to stay, and I strongly believe that he made a poor choice.

He did have a surprisingly successful season for the Nittany Lions, going 8-4 and winning the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year award.

This was done after the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the school to its core and led to a number of unprecedented sanctions levied by the NCAA.

O'Brien flirted with leaving the team but decided to stay in the end, keeping his word of staying, but also after a rumored significant pay increase of $1.2 million from a donor.

O'Brien's name will never be hotter than it is right now, and he has nowhere to go but down. Penn State overachieved and had a relatively successful season after being left for dead following the scandal.

But this is an anomaly; those sanctions are going to cripple the team in the upcoming seasons, which could extinguish the fire of the O'Brien name.

So instead of doing the smart thing and leaving the school for the NFL, he decided to do the honorable thing and be the noble captain who goes down with his ship.

Loyalty will only get him so far, and I have a feeling that he will find that out sooner than later.

Drew Hawley

Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

(The writer is a student at Penn State Altoona.)

Blame more than Armstrong

When I hear the words "Tour de France," I immediately think of professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, who won the infamous race seven consecutive times. He battled testicular cancer, went through extensive chemotherapy and came out victorious.

Armstrong was tested hundreds of times for illegal drugs as many athletes are. It baffles me that no one could find any in his system in all those years.

Armstrong was put on a pedestal by millions of people who admired him for what he had accomplished. Many people wondered just how he could win so many races in a row without any help from illegal substances.

Yet, the evidence is clear that he should have been caught earlier.

In 2005, the director of the Tour de France said there was a performance-enhancing drug found in Armstrong's stored blood sample from 1999. However, he denied ever using said drug. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dropped the ball in its failure to investigate this allegation.

In 2011, Armstrong announced his retirement from competitive cycling in the wake of investigations into his doping allegations.

Finally in 2012, the USADA charged Armstrong using illicit performance-enhancing drugs and banned him from ever competing again.

Though shocking, I found it appropriate that he was stripped of all his titles dating back from 1998. Some people will do anything to be and remain on top.

They don't consider what will happen to their fans, their reputation or even their careers; they just want that high of winning. Armstrong did not come clean until 2013.

Before doing so he ruined lives and reputations in his quest for personal glory.

Armstrong should be ashamed of lying. However, the experts and authorities who failed to challenge credible evidence of cheating should be equally ashamed.

Ashley Boyer

Duncansville

(The writer is a student at Penn State Altoona.)

 
 
 

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