A new era has begun at Penn State. Coach Bill O’Brien has somewhat of a formidable task. Due to the unfortunate incidents over the last several months several of Penn States top players left for other colleges to continue their football careers. When Coach O’Brien arrived the situation was already bad. However, after his arrival things became even worse as players left. With that sad here are some of my thoughts.
You have walked into a mess. The current is against you. There are few favorable winds at your back. But you took the job knowing all that, and because you believe your previous experiences, your character, and your success coaching football have prepared you for this undertaking.
I would add at this point that unless you have ever been broken at some point in your life, this job will become even tougher. You have walked into a broken situation, you will be surrounded by broken people, and you must be able to walk in their shoes.
One of the great stories from the book of Genesis centers around the life of Joseph. Let me encourage you to read that story multiple times and learn from how he led during a great famine. And quite frankly, Penn State football may be entering a time of famine, and it may last for a few years.
Here are six lessons to begin with:
1. Not all leaders can lead during a famine. Egypt went through seven years of famine and Joseph led the way. Part of your job is going to be to lead Penn State through the current crisis.
2. Do not complain. Everyone knows the circumstances. Everyone knows there is a famine in the land. Be proactive and lead.
3. Don’t play the blame game. Yes, people previous to you made some poor decisions. We get all that. Remember, you took the job knowing all that, and you felt like you measured up to the challenge. Deal with it, and do not bring up the earlier administration.
4. Set the example. Avoid spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror or you will wind up in the ditch.
5. Identify some benchmarks or milestones to track your progress along this long journey. As you travel, you will gain hope as you reach these along the way.
6. Cast a compelling vision for a bright future. Stay positive, encourage those around you, and serve your coaching staff and players well.
Yes, the sun has gone down on the University of Penn State. But it will rise again. And you can be the coach who is at the helm when that happens.
One more thing.
Remember that the country is pulling for you. Yes, Penn State has that much influence. And many will be cheering for your success.