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Happy Valley reacts to O'Brien's decision to leave PSU
By: Marc Stempka
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Its the hottest topic in the Centre Region despite the biting cold: Bill OBriens decision to leave the head coaching position at Penn State University and take the top job with the Houston Texans.
Penn State fans have been very vocal about the coaching situation, calling into several of the areas spots talk radio shows, and some State College area businesses are offering deep discounts on Bill OBrien merchandise.
Steve Jones of ESPN Radio 1450 in State College is one of the best-known voices of Nittany Lion football. He co-hosts Sports Talk with Steve Jones and Brian Tripp from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays. Jones has covered Nittany Lion football for decades and says fans are having mixed reactions.
Theyre upset because they invested a lot in the two years with OBrien, an emotional roller coaster, Jones said.
Jones said hes slightly surprised by OBriens decision to leave, but said this could be a new normal for Penn State, with head football coaching jobs becoming high-stake positions and with the era of staying committed to a program all but over.
I think one of the keys is you get somebody in that has a chance to be successful and they look at Penn State as being the job, Jones said. [Somebody that says] this is the kind of job Ive always wanted, Penn State University, Big Ten, I can do great things here.
The OBrien departure also has stores stuck with quite a bit of Bill OBrien related gear.
The Family Clothesline in downtown State College has up to 50 percent markdowns on some items. Advertising Manager Caroline Gummo said theyre looking to unload the products.
Maybe someone is interested in a good clean sweatshirt, [or] T-shirt, I dont know, its a good deal if you dont care whats on the front of the shirt, Gummo said. Well keep it on sale for a while and then whatever is left over and its just not moving, well probably end up donating it.
Many business owners said that regardless of who is in charge of the Penn State football team, that it wont necessarily determine the future of the football crowds that the team brings to town.