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Joe Paterno Congratulates Bill O'Brien On His Hiring As Penn State's Next Head Coach

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Joe Paterno leaves the Penn State football team's building on November 8, 2011 in University Park, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) | Getty

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno has congratulated Bill O'Brien on his hiring as Penn State's next head coach.

O'Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, was named Paterno's successor Friday night, two months after Paterno was fired.

While O'Brien, 42, has no apparent previous ties to Penn State, he did attend Brown University – just like the 85-year-old Paterno.

"I understand Bill O'Brien has been named head coach and I want to congratulate him on his appointment," Paterno said in a two-paragraph statement provided to The Associated Press by his family. "I don't know Bill, but I respect his coaching record, and I am particularly pleased we share a connection to my alma mater, Brown."

University trustees fired Paterno Nov. 9 in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Authorities have said that Paterno, who testified before a state grand jury investigating Sandusky, is not a target of the probe. Sandusky waived a court hearing last month and is awaiting trial after denying the charges.

Division I's winningest coach with 409 victories, Paterno was head coach for 46 seasons.

"Despite recent commentary to the contrary, Penn State football has always been about more than winning," Paterno said. "I came to Penn State with the simple but unshakable view that this great institution could and should have a football program that is both fiercely competitive and deeply committed to education and community service.

"The proof of our success is the hundreds of former players who have graduated and gone on to become great husbands, fathers, businessmen and community leaders," the statement read before concluding, "I am hopeful this tradition will continue."

O'Brien will be formally announced at a news conference on Saturday in the Nittany Lion Inn ballroom on campus. It begins at 11:30 a.m.

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