Remember the backlash that came when it was announced the Bill O'Brien would become the next head coach of Penn State? At the time, there was this false glimmer of hope that Joe Paterno might return -- or maybe that it was all just a bad dream. It Wasn't. O'Brien was hired.
But before he could do a whole lot with the Nittany Lions, O'Brien had to finish his duties as offensive coordinator with the Patriots. Since the official introduction as head coach, it seems like the perception of O'Brien has lightened a bit. He certainly noticed it while at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
"I'll tell you, it's been great. I can tell you at the Super Bowl it was excellent," O'Brien said to Penn State Sports. "When you walked out on the field for warmups at the Super Bowl there were a lot of people there that either went to Penn State or had Penn State connections and wished myself and our staff the very best."
The same goes for letterman of the school, "upwards of fifty" that O'Brien has talked to.
But while the warm fuzzy feeling of being welcomed to the Penn State family was nice, the sting of losing Super Bowl XLVI probably hurt O'Brien just as much. Still, he recognizes how special the team was that he was a part of, and talks about the experience.
"It's my second Super Bowl, so anytime you have a chance to go to the Super Bowl it's a very special team, it's a very special experience," O'Brien said. "The Giants made a few more plays than we did on that night. I guess there's a lot of decisions or plays that we would all like back -- coaches and players -- but we can't get them back. But we had a very special season, it was a team that I was very proud to be associated with, and hopefully I keep in touch with those guys for the rest of lives."
BALTIMORE - Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.
Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.
Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox, who reduced their magic number for reaching the postseason to one. If the Angels lost to Cleveland later Wednesday night, Boston would be assured no worse than a wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.
The Red Sox, of course, would prefer to enter as AL East champions. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Yankees with 10 games left.
After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games.
BALTIMORE — One of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in Red Sox history saw a milestone toppled Wednesday night.
In a dominant start vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards, Chris Sale became the first American League pitcher this century to strike out 300 batters in a season. He also put himself in striking distance of the Red Sox single-season record for Ks, 313.
Sale is the 14th different pitcher since 1920 to reach the 300 mark. The only other pitcher to do so in a Red Sox uniform was Pedro Martinez, who set the club record of 313 in 1999.
Sale was at 12 strikeouts and 99 pitches through seven innings Wednesday night with the Sox ahead 6-0. The offense added two more runs in the top of the inning, prompting Sox manager John Farrell to warm up righty Austin Maddox.
But Sale nonetheless took the mound. The first two batters of the inning grounded out. On a 2-2 pitch to the left-handed hitting Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a front-door slider that caught Flaherty looking. It was his 111th pitch of the night.
Sale has two more scheduled starts, although he may only make one more.
His final appearance of the regular season projects to be Game No. 162 against the Astros. If the Sox have the American League East wrapped up, Sale could well be held out of that game.
The Sox and Astros meet for four games to end the regular season at Fenway Park, and may be first-round opponents if the Indians maintain the best record in the AL and therefore home field advantage.
The last time a pitcher in either league struck out 300 was 2015, when Clayton Kershaw did so for the Dodgers.
Sale was in line for his 17th win Wednesday, tying his career high.