In case you did not hear, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has agreed to take the Houston Texans job. Now why would Penn State's football coach leaving the post mean anything for Pitt? On the surface, the relevance can be tied to recruiting, but how much does it really matter?
No need to get into the Pitt/Penn State rivalry here. Yes, the team have not played lately. Yes, they will not play for another few years. The one true link to the rivalry that has kept it intact is recruiting, and Penn State's coach could mean something to Pitt down the line.
Pitt is in the midst of a small pocket of security and optimism. The Panthers won their bowl game and finished with a winning record for the first time in a couple years. Paul Chryst has given a slight sense of promise for the future to a fan base that truly needed it. It is Penn State doing the job search for the second time in three years and the Panthers seem to have a bit of stability with Chryst. It is their fan base having the message board and twitter meltdown. It is Penn State having to deal with the media ridiculing them. So for Pitt fans and everyone involved with the school, it's a sigh of relief.
So back to the topic at hand, does O'Brien's departure mean something for Pitt? In my honest assessment, it really does not. Through the years, Pitt and Penn State have battled for prospects in Western PA and each program has won their fair share of battles. Bill O'Brien is an excellent coach, and an ever better recruiter. To recruit under his circumstances, he's done an extraordinary job. Still, Pitt lost out on major prospects to other teams, not Penn State. Tyler Boyd, Dorian Johnson, and Alex Bookser all committed to Pitt instead of Penn State. Sure Penn State won some battles and have some commits with Pitt offers, but for the recruiting ground the teams share, naturally, the two schools offer the same players, along with other regional schools. It happens.
The main point here is that it will be difficult to find a better recruiter than O'Brien so I'm not sure things will be much more difficult for Pitt, anyway. Penn State can hire a great recruiter like James Franklin, but how much better can he be than O'Brien? Not enough to make Pitt worried. They can go for proven college guys with ties to the area like Greg Schiano or Al Golden, but again, it should not do enough to have Pitt worried. These principles go for any Penn State candidate out there. Pitt is going to do their thing, and with potential in the current freshman class, this could be a program on the rise.
The main thing for Pitt is to keep on keeping on. Paul Chryst is trying to build his program, and he either will make it work or he won't. But the head football coach at Penn State will not have anything to do with it. This staff can recruit, and they actually have bigger recruiting worries out there (Urban Meyer) so no need for Pitt fans to dwell on this hire too much. Pitt is in a different conference and in a different stage than the school to the East. Pitt could be looking at a bright 2014, so why worry about Penn State? Worry about the Blue and Gold - not the Blue and White.