While the hiring of Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as head football coach at Penn State hasn't yet been formally announced by the university or confirmed by acting athletic director David Joyner, that hasn't stopped his predecessor from speaking publicly. Joe Paterno has already released a statement of congratulations to O'Brien, according to the AP.
"I understand Bill O'Brien has been named head coach, and I want to congratulate him on his appointment," Paterno said in a statement provided by his family. "I don't know Bill, but I respect his coaching record, and I am particularly pleased we share a connection to my alma mater, Brown."
Paterno was fired by the university on Nov. 9 for his role in covering up the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. He was at the helm in Happy Valley for 46 years, compiling a record 409 victories. While Paterno and the program were much maligned this fall for all of their off-field conflict, the former coach is optimistic that things will turn around in the O'Brien era.
"Despite recent commentary to the contrary, Penn State football has always been about more than winning," Paterno said. "I am hopeful this tradition will continue."
The university has yet to say anything official about hiring O'Brien. "When there is something to confirm, I'll let you know," Joyner said.