O’Brien ‘hates’ Twitter, respects Ferentz
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is no more a fan of social media than he is of punting.
O’Brien made that clear Tuesday when asked about cornerback Stephon Morris’ take on the Penn State-Iowa rivalry, which will be renewed Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.
Morris wrote on his Twitter account that the two teams “hate” each other, something that earned the forum a public rebuke from O’Brien.
“Do you know what I hate? I hate Twitter,” the first-year coach said at his weekly news conference. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for their football program and how they play the game, how they’re coached. I think that’s just young guys tweeting this, tweeting that.”
The respect between Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and O’Brien is mutual. And their connection goes beyond O’Brien taking the job for which Ferentz was once thought to be a viable candidate because of his Western Pennsylvania roots.
Both are from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, and O’Brien mentored Ferentz’s son, Brian, for four seasons when the two worked for Belichick in New England.
The latter link would be a mere footnote to the game in which Penn State will try to snap a four-game losing streak at Iowa, except for one thing: Brian Ferentz can spend this week providing valuable insight to his father into the way O’Brien thinks and operates.
The younger Ferentz is in his first season at Iowa, coaching an improving offensive line. He and O’Brien are still close most weeks of the year.
“Any time you work with someone (all day), six months out of the year for four years and you go to a Super Bowl with a guy and you have a lot of respect for his football knowledge, yeah, there’s no question that there’s a great friendship there,” O’Brien said of Brian Ferentz, who worked his way from scouting assistant to tight ends coach in New England. “I obviously have a lot of respect for his dad and what he’s done at Iowa.”
Kirk Ferentz picked up his 100th career win last Saturday at Michigan State, and the 14th-year head coach has the most tenure of any of his Big Ten peers. He has enjoyed so much success at Iowa, despite geographical limitations, that Ferentz was once mentioned prominently among those who might succeed Joe Paterno at Penn State.
Ferentz said Tuesday he did dream of going to Penn State — albeit as a player coming out of Upper St. Clair in the mid ‘70s — not as a coach who has long considered Iowa home.
“I guess they didn’t have the need for a small, slow fullback,” said Ferentz, who played Connecticut. “Iowa’s been great to me as a professional, it’s been even better to our family, so I don’t play that what-if game.”
Neither does O’Brien, and that has allowed him to weather severe NCAA sanctions and guide Penn State to a 4-2 start.
“I didn’t know Bill O’Brien from Bill Blass until a couple of years ago, but I’ve got a lot of respect for his football opinions,” Ferentz said. “It was a great hire by Penn State, unfortunately.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected].