Danny O’Brien is on a magical, mystery tour.
Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said goodbye to the 2010 1st Freshmen All-American. O’Brien in turn says hello to Ole Miss, Penn State and Wisconsin. Initially, Edsall said stop — specifically to Vanderbilt and a reunion between O’Brien and former UM offensive coordinator James Franklin.
Where O’Brien lands is a guess shrouded in foggy intrigue, like the location of a house on Blue Jay Way. Each of the three programs he visits this week has something to offer. And O’Brien offers an immediately eligible quarterback with game-tested abilities, as well as two years of eligibility. O’Brien threw 22 touchdowns and over 2400 yards in his debut campaign, flourishing in Franklin’s pro style offense. He’s readymade to be plugged into an offense and give it instant credibility. To the coach who signs him, all you can say is Baby, You’re A Rich Man.
New Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien certainly knows a thing or two about the pro system, having coordinated the New England Patriots. The myriad struggles PSU had at quarterback the last two seasons suggest a wide open driver’s seat for O’Brien (the Danny version) to occupy, and O’Brien (the Bill version) can groom his play caller into a pro talent.
But PSU faces a rocky future far more uncertain than O’Brien’s. There’s prescience in the lyrics to “Strawberry Fields Forever:”
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone
There’s an urban legend that this track played backwards has a line saying “Paul is dead, man. Miss him, miss him, miss him.” Paul sounds an awful lot like “Pa,” doesn’t it? And Joe Pa’s legacy will loom large over Happy Valley in a difficult transitional period.
Ole Miss has its own new head coach, and Hugh Freeze proved his quarterback-making abilities with Arkansas State’s Ryan Apling. Of course, the Sun Belt is a much different beast than the mighty SEC. The Rebels have carried a millstone around their neck as heavy as a walrus, and how Freeze plans on competing immediately in a league with Arkansas, LSU and Alabama is about as confusing as Lennon’s tune. After back-to-back abysmal seasons, Ole Miss is ill-fitted for a quick turnaround. Coming off an 0-8 league season, the joker laughs at Oxford.
That leaves Wisconsin. The fit in Madison is obvious given Wilson’s success there. Heisman finalist Montee Ball is back, giving O’Brien a launching point from which to operate. Such a potentially prolific one-two punch would have the Badgers, who avearged 44.1 points per game in ’11, Flying once more.
All that O’Brien needs after his quick benching at UM is for his new head coach to show him some love.