Posted December 22, 2013

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien asks for amended buyout, could be headed to NFL

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Bill O'Brien is the man at Penn State, but he may be looking for greener pastures. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Bill O’Brien is the man at Penn State, but he may be looking for greener pastures. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

When Black Monday came around at the end of the 2012 regular season, it was the start of a process by which there were eight new head coaching vacancies. There could be at least that many at the end of the 2013 regular season and beyond, and it appears that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is preparing the road for a journey back to the NFL.

O’Brien took the Penn State job after the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the program to its very core, and has succeeded despite scholarship limitations, bowl bans, and a downtrodden sense in general among the Nittany Lions. He was announced as Joe Paterno’s long-term replacement on Jan. 7, 2012, and he managed an 8-4 record in his first year, with a 7-5 follow-up in 2013. To put up such records would be impressive for any new coach replacing any legend, but given the circumstances, the work O’Brien did to rejuvenate the program was singularly impressive.

After his first season at Penn State, there was talk about O’Brien heading back to the pros, where he had worked his way up from a general assistant, to receivers coach, to quarterbacks coach, to offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots during the franchise’s most prolific offensive outputs from 2007 through 2011.

The possibility of losing their new coach prompted those in charge at Penn State to up the ante, giving O’Brien a new contract in June and raising his base salary from $950,000 to $1,932,779. O’Brien got a $935,279 lump-sum payment and a five-percent salary raise, but he also got a buyout clause that is raising a lot of interest these days. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the language that would have O’Brien owing his current base salary plus the base salaries throughout the current deal, which goes through 2016, may be a thing of the past.

One Penn State official said Bill O’Brien’s rep recently approached the school about potential reducing his NFL buyout even further.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 22, 2013

O’Brien’s interest in the NFL is real — even after he announced that he was staying at Penn State, he made his ultimate destination clear.

“My profession is coaching, and in my profession, the National Football League is the highest level of coaching,” O’Brien said earlier this year.

The NFL’s interest in O’Brien is also real — he has already been contacted by at least one pro team, and the work he’s done at Penn State would certainly seem to make him an attractive candidate for NFL teams looking for a turnaround. It’s hard to think of any other team in any other sport who’s dealt with what the Penn State football team has dealt with in recent years. That factor may also minimize any reluctance teams might have in taking on another Belichick acolyte, as the record is not very positive there. From Nick Saban to Eric Mangini to Josh McDaniels, Belichick’s former assistants have failed miserably when they’ve been given the keys to NFL franchises.

Is Bill O’Brien the man to break that chain? It certainly appears as if he’s getting ready to test the waters.

34 comments
6marK6
6marK6

Disappointed in O'Brien, you kind of broke your word and commitment. I would be hesitant about seeking him, he apparently has some loyalty issues.

RonPezzi
RonPezzi

Greg Schiano shoulkd be available soon. He always wanted to coach in the B1G Ten when he was at Rutgers.

BigBubba
BigBubba

If I was PSU, I'd just end it now and give him his walking papers.  If O'Brien claims to be a decent guy concerned about PSU, he wouldn't put them through this each year, as he has done in his first two years.  I used to have respect for him, but no more.  PSU is a destination job, even with the penalties.  For O'Brien, it was just a chance to be a stepping stone.  Shame for the players who commit

TomServo
TomServo

Q:  When O'Brien went to Penn State, how did he separate the Men from the Boys???


A: WITH A CROWBAR!!!

hoofmark
hoofmark

Short and sweet. Been nice knowing you. No Belichek coach has made it on his own in the NFL. Wonder who will be the next coach?

Marchoir
Marchoir

Looks like O'Brien has had his fill of Jonestown, Pennsylvania. He's much like a "moonie" escaping the compound.

jacksonbrown
jacksonbrown

I wouldn't have a problem if this was an NFL job and he was looking at other jobs in the NFL.  But this is about a college program, one that saw so many of its players stay with the university despite sanctions that included bowl bans for years which you know these kids have to love going to.  It saw a group of incoming freshman band together knowing that they wouldn't go to a bowl until possibly their senior year. I just find what he's doing wrong.  Plain and simple.  You convinced these kids to stay yet each year we have to go through this charade of 'will he stay or will he go?'  He's a great coach and he's really done wonders there, but don't tell your players to stay if you're looking to leave at the same time.  It's disingenuous.  And please don't tell me this is speculative because you don't get your buyout reduced for the hell of it.

RichardCHamilton
RichardCHamilton

If your not close to PSU and the PSU football program you have no idea what Penn State is all about. Some of the best facilities in the world, a top of the line research program and just a great university. A women's athletic program that is tops. Women's volleyball just won the NCAA title on Saturday, their 5th title in 7 years. A wrestling program that has won 2 straight NCAA titles and the men's basketball program just plain sucks. They just built a state of the art ice hockey arena for their brand new  NCAA hockey team. Beaver Stadium holds 110,000 people and game day is an experience like no other. There is soooo much more but I hope you get the point.

jworsr
jworsr

Read the article closely, folks.....  It's ALL speculation!  And the author, Doug Farrar, even

   includes a speculative statement by Adam Schefter to his vat of speculation.


Speculation is what writers carry in their hip-pockets.  When facts are not available, they

     substitute speculation.  After all, deadlines are deadlines!


ianlinross
ianlinross

Makes me wonder what those kids that didn't transfer think right about now?

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Sandusky violated Billy's butt chin.

Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask
Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask

And why shouldnt he? If he is a viable candidate for an NFL job I say go for it. Dont have an interst in Penn State but it is quite impressive what he has accomplished in two seasons there given the sanctions. I dont know everything about it but I read something about more sanctions than expected. If thats the case why stick around? While it would be a feel good story for him to stick around and turn Penn State into a viable commodity again, who knows how long that will take and the damage to your credentials. take the NFL job that presents you the best chance at success.

JackSparks
JackSparks

Did Nick Saban fail miserably in the NFL? 15-17 isn't too bad considering the Dilphins went 1-15 after he left....

6marK6
6marK6

@RonPezzi I could see him at Penn State for sure. Although he is a little too extreme for my tastes.

Fenris
Fenris

@jacksonbrown He's done a great job at Penn State. He could've left last year but didn't. I'd be really sorry to see him go, but feel he got PSU through the worst of it - the past 2 years - and I wish him well. 3 of his assistants left within the past few weeks; been wondering if that meant O'Brien is leaving now.

Mike26
Mike26

@jacksonbrown 1.  That is college and pro sports today, and has been for a long time.

2.  If they're at Penn State, if these are top-flight athletes that feel they need to transfer over a coaching change, then they should transfer.  The world will go on at Penn State and everywhere else.

Fenris
Fenris

@RichardCHamilton The volleyball National Championship was Penn State's 6th - tied for all-time most championships with Stanford.

Marchoir
Marchoir

@RichardCHamiltonNot close by any means, but fully know and understand what Penn State is all about. The entire world knows. It's etched in the stones of history forevermore. It is a referendum on how a Jonestown like cult was built around one man and a football program. A culture of cold indifference, perpetuated by people blinded by what they perceived to be a shared success. Penn State is a symbol for the total depravity of man and how absolute unchecked power corrupts.It is an example of abandoning all morality and dignity in the name of building a legacy and a program. They created a monster which became bigger than the institution itself. The monster became the face and focus of the institution and devoured all in it's path. The people so loved the monster they created, they could not bear to kill it, and instead elected to defend it at all costs. Thus, the ugly monster still lives and thrives in Happy Valley. Much to the delight of the depraved souls whose lives are committed only to feeding and nurturing  it. 

newshamg
newshamg

@RichardCHamilton It is low level amateur sport - let's not get carried away that this is some wondrous world class thing. For the most part a bunch of low level "athletes" running around in a sport they have no chance of ever succeeding at. And I have been to Penn State several times and the stadium is your typical very large but poor quality college stadium. It's Beaver Stadium not a world class facility.

Mike26
Mike26

@RichardCHamilton They will be known as a shelter of a serial child sex predator for a long time, like it or not.  That's what happens when the importance of a shiny football program outweighs human decency.

ianlinross
ianlinross

@jworsr Farrar is posting on what Adam Schefter has learned. I'll believe Adam Schefter. You can believe in the god of Almighty Joe Pa. And yeah, we did all read the article closely.

matthewmhunter
matthewmhunter

@jworsr no worries, it is usually just small minded people whose opinions are ultimately irrelevant that will continue to focus on the past and ignore the present reality. Good thing that in the long run, those people never seem to matter much.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@jworsrYou used speculation or speculative five times in your post while neither word popped up in the article.   Maybe you are the one doing the speculating.

matthewmhunter
matthewmhunter

@JackSparks the difference is, O'brien is already a proven commodity in the NFL, I'd have no reason to be concerned he wouldn't exceed where other college coaches have failed in the NFL.

Mike26
Mike26

@Richard--Ramirez @hoofmark LOL!  PSU isn't in the same hemisphere as the Packers when it comes to football; only a deluded, we-never-did-anything-wrong-so-why-were-we-punished Penn State fan would believe otherewise.

Mike26
Mike26

@JoeCabot @jworsr Joe, you DO know that people can speculate while in a speculative state without using the term "speculation", don't you?  

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Mike26 Sure do.  I also find it amusing when chronic complainers whine about speculating writers when they are doing the same thing.