Former Penn State Quarterback Christian Hackenberg Was Doing a Keg Stand When Coach Bill O’Brien Left for NFL

by Bryan Fyalkowski

Bill O’Brien celebrated New Year’s Eve 2013 by leaving Penn State for a head coaching position with the Houston Texans. Before the news went viral, he called Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg to let him know that he was leaving.

Little did O’Brien know, Hackenberg was celebrating a bit himself. He was in the middle of doing a keg stand at a college party at James Madison University.

Hackenberg went to high school at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, which is about 90 minutes from JMU. He was visiting friends at a house party when he felt his cell phone buzz in his pocket while upside down doing the keg stand.

He asked to be let down and looked at his phone. Thinking it was one of his friends without looking at the caller ID, Hackenberg answered casually: “Hey! What’s up?! What’s up?!” But actually, it was O’Brien, who just opened with: “Hack?”

It was then Hackenberg realized who it was. He said: “Hey coach, what’s going on?” And O’Brien replied: “I’m going to Houston.”

Hackenberg then walked into the house, disheveled, and the news was all over ESPN. He shared the story for the first time this weekend in an interview with Saturday Tradition’s Connor O’Gara.

If my math is correct, Hackenberg’s birthday is on February 14, 1995. That would make him just shy of 19 years old when said keg stand was performed. Hmmm …

Football Career Flames Out

Penn State went 7-5 during Christian Hackenberg and Bill O’Brien’s year together in 2013. But the program was unable to go to a bowl game because of the NCAA sanctions in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that went on while Joe Paterno was head coach.

After O’Brien left for the NFL, the Nittany Lions went 7-6 each of the next two years under new coach James Franklin. That included a 31-30 win over Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl and a 24-17 loss to Georgia in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. Hackenberg was chosen 51st overall by the New York Jets in the 2016 NFL Draft. He never appeared in a regular-season game in the league.

Hackenberg was released by the Jets in June 2018. He was signed for brief stints that season with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals, but by the end of that year, his NFL career was done. Hackenberg played three games for the AAF’s Memphis Express during the league’s brief existence in 2019.

Since then, he has coached high school football in New Jersey. By the looks of his Twitter feed, Hackenberg has appeared on podcasts for The Field of 12 and stayed connected with Penn State at alumni events. No keg stand recently, as far as I can tell.