State College, PA (Sports Network) - Penn State introduced its new head football coach on Saturday and Bill O'Brien said he is confident that he is the right man to lead the program in the aftermath of a scandal that ended Joe Paterno's 46-year reign.
Paterno, of course, was dismissed two months ago in the wake of the child sex abuse charges levied against Jerry Sandusky, unable to keep his job amid accusations he didn't do enough to prevent further abuse by the retired defensive coordinator.
O'Brien not only has the daunting task of replacing a legend, but he must also help heal a community stung by the revelations from this past autumn and will have to do it with many thinking he was the wrong choice.
Some former players and observers questioned the hiring of O'Brien, who has no ties to the university and no previous head coaching experience. He addressed those who have concerns right away on Saturday.
"It's my job to bring both sides together," O'Brien said. "I understand there's some controversy right now. It's my job to put us in the right direction... We want you [alumni, letterman and supporters] to know that you will always be welcome because we are Penn State."
O'Brien has been the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and will continue in that role until the NFL team's season comes to an end. While he remains with the Patriots through their playoff run, which will start next Sunday after this week's bye, O'Brien said he is in the process of putting a staff together and will devote any free time he has to the university and his new position.
O'Brien said he would speak with members of the current Penn State coaching staff and already stated that defensive line coach Larry Johnson will remain.
Tom Bradley was the interim coach for Penn State's final four games, including a loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. The Nittany Lions were 1-3 under Bradley.
O'Brien said he had great respect for the program and hoped to speak with Paterno in the very near future.
"As a young football coach, I grew up following the Penn State football program," O'Brien remarked. "There will never be enough words to say what [Paterno] did for this program. I can't wait to meet him."
The new head coach has little in common with the old one, although O'Brien and Paterno both attended Brown University, where Paterno played and O'Brien also starred and broke into coaching in 1993.
O'Brien coached one more season at Brown before moving on to the ACC, where he spent time as an offensive assistant, then offensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Georgia Tech. He also coached at Maryland and ran the offense at Duke from 2005-2006.
His travels then took him to New England, where he has coached the wide receivers and quarterbacks before calling the plays for the Patriots this season.
As for the future of the program, O'Brien is very upbeat.
"The standard for Penn State football remains very high and always will," he noted. "I have a lot of confidence in my ability to lead this program."