Forty-two lines on 21 topics: I really, really hope I'm wrong because I like Bill O'Brien a lot. But this ain't gonna be pretty at Penn State. This is not a football job. It's a renovation, reclamation, resuscitation of one of America's great programs and the restoration of self-image for the university, its alumni and a region. And Penn State turns its lonely, post-Paterno eyes to a guy they may have never even laid eyes on until O'Brien wasbeingrestrained while screaming at the greatest quarterback of his generation a month ago. Yow. O'Brien's a football coach who's never been a head coach. And he's led the cloistered, monklike existence of a Patriots' assistant in which every syllable is parsed by Bill Belichick for tone and appropriateness. O'Brien serves up organization-approved pablum and non-answers on his conference calls every week. Neither he nor Nick Caserio stray from the Patriots' talking points. This Penn State job? It's everything but football right now and if the school or O'Brien have deluded themselves otherwise (and here's proof they have) then O'Brien's about to be fed into the wood chipper. Fortunately for Penn State, O'Brien is smart as hell, genuine and a terrific communicator. He will present exceedingly well in his introductory press conference, I guarantee that. But this job needs a Tony Dungy-type right now and O'Brien is a fire-and-brimstone football guy who, inevitably, is going to lose patience with the persistence of the media. Unlike what he goes through now, this isn't going to be eight people on a Monday conference callhalf-assedly askingwhy Chad Ochocinco hasn't been a bigger factor. This is NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, SNL, Jon Stewart, the NYT, the BBC and every other organization with air time and bandwidth to fill and a stomach-turning scandal that is going to go on and on as it moves through the judicial system. Nobody's going to care much about the route tree. And never mind recruiting in a Pennsylvania living room when file footage of Sandusky in his Nittany Lions gear pops on the screen, have you heard the reaction of the football alumni? Said former linebacker Brandon Short: I dont want to be affiliated with the university if they dont choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important . . . its no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC. They are intent on turning it into a booster culture. Ira Lubert went out and purchased a national title with wrestling and hes under the illusion that he can do that in football. Well, ask (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder about that. Penn State is a family and it is real and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then theyve turned their backs on our entire family. I don't think Bill O'Brien's going to get a fair shake there. But I hope - I really hope - I'm wrong. Meanwhile, as Bill Belichick asked in 2010, "Who's been wrong more than Charlie Casserly." Good question. I'll take the Texans over the Bengals in the first AFC Wild Card game. I'm going with the Broncos over the Steelers in a seismic upset in the second one. In the NFC, Saints rout the Lions. And the Giants take out Atlanta. I think the Saints are playing the best football of anyone right now. Their road to Indy - Detroit, at San Fran and probably at Green Bay - is so hard they won't likely get there, though. A little non-football? Marquis Daniels does curious things on the basketball court for the Celtics. Hoop game for my son's seventh-grade team on the Vineyard on Sunday. Only been over there once in my life and never been to Nantucket (landlubber). Everyone's invited to the Renaissance Patriot Place on Monday at 6:30 p.m. for Comcast SportsNet's pre-playoff party. Food, drink, a Q&A, special guests and the Patriots cheerleaders to count you down to the BCS National Championship game between LSU and Alabama. Last May, after 11 years of minivan driving, we traded that mess in for a pretty nice SUV. We miss the minivan. "She sounds hideous." Favorite commercial these days - in a rout.
Matt Light talks with Toucher and Rich about the Antonio Brown Facebook Live video, and whether Bill Belichick warns players before the season to not even think about doing something like this.
Troy Brown and Mike Felger talk about the New England Patriots preparation for the Pittsburgh Steelers.