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O’Brien has a decision to make

Bill O'Brien AP

Typically, college head coaches keep their names out of circulation for other jobs until they have taken another job.  But there’s nothing typical about the current coaching situation at Penn State.

Other coaches, like Greg Schiano a year ago at Rutgers, keep their courtship with an NFL team tightly under wraps in order to avoid having their recruiting class scatter — and to prevent the development of a perception that it’s a matter of time before the coach leaves.  For Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, the possibility that he’ll leave Not-So-Happy Valley is the least of his concerns as he tries to persuade players to attend a school with several more years of ineligibility for bowl games.

And so the worst-kept secret in college football is that O’Brien is considering leaving.  Even the Harrisburg Patriot News is in on the act, reporting (via CSNPhilly.com) that O’Brien is coveted by a trio of NFL teams (Eagles, Browns, and Cardinals), and that the powers-that-be at Penn State will try to bump his pay to $3.5 million annually, via a private gift.

According to David Jones of the Patriot News, the Eagles could be the least attractive to O’Brien, given that Philly G.M. Howie Roseman is held in “low regard” by Pats coach Bill Belichick.

If O’Brien goes, he’ll have a Petrino-style reputation in the college ranks, and he’ll potentially be chastised by those players he persuaded to stay during the no-penalty transfer window.  O’Brien’s defense likely will be that he was told when he took the job that there would be no NCAA sanctions.

Either way, having a coach with open NFL aspirations is something with which Penn State hasn’t had to contend.  Ever.  Regardless of Joe Paterno’s final legacy, his pro football flirtations were very limited and extremely early in his tenure.

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39 Responses to “O’Brien has a decision to make”
  1. anthonyverna says: Jan 2, 2013 9:07 AM

    To me, the biggest revelation is that Bill Belichick doesn’t hold Howie Roseman in high regard. Wait a minute. . .

  2. steelfan1 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:10 AM

    Why is it that the media love playing this assumption game. O’ Brien hasn’t said a word, and so far, not saying a word means he is flirting with NFL jobs. Common guys, show some integrity (i know that is asking much).

  3. prince5000 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:10 AM

    he’s gonna go – why would anyone turn down a NFL head coaching gig to stay in that mess?

  4. djstat says: Jan 2, 2013 9:12 AM

    O’Brien is an idiot if he took the job and assumed there would not be consequences from the NCAA.

  5. Cereal says: Jan 2, 2013 9:13 AM

    As a PSU grad, this is very concerning. We have had enough unfair punishment, this would be the frosting on the terd

  6. reasonableeaglefan says: Jan 2, 2013 9:14 AM

    The premise that he didn’t expect any sanctions is false. Reports are, that his contract was extended a year for every year that the school is sanctioned (4 years total). So if this was negotiated into the contract and agreed to by both sides, I have no sympathy, and feel any lawsuit to decrease the buyout is frivolous at best. Everything he said this year (like when he put the players names on the jersey’s, because they stayed and should be recognized) would come off as disingenuous, and his character under adversity has been his biggest asset to this point.

  7. Patskrieg dot com says: Jan 2, 2013 9:21 AM

    Hi. Patriots fan here. O’Brien sucks. It took him years to figure out the Patriots offense. He couldn’t make a mid-game adjustment to save his life. He squandered almost every post season opportunity he had. And took every chance he could to make some snide comment to the press about how it was all Brady’s fault.

    It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he turned his back on Penn State. The only thing that shocks me is that an NFL team would want him.

  8. jmagnet28 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:26 AM

    So Obriens big recruiting pitch to the current PS players was to stay on and build something new, something fresh and be a part of something great. And many stayed as a result.

    And now he’s gonna leave after one season?? What was that line from Sonny in A Bronx Tale? “Nobody cares. Nobody cares”

  9. eatitfanboy says: Jan 2, 2013 9:31 AM

    He might as well leave now.

    The damage to recruiting is already done. Now, on top of having to convince kids to come to a school that is on probation for 3 more years, he will have to convince them he will stay after letting this rumor sit out there for days that he would leave. Even if he stays now, it is permanently out there that he would consider leaving.

    If he leaves, he goes from being revered to being despised. Since that doesn’t seem to matter much to coaches, I guess I shouldn’t expect it to matter to him. As people have pointed out to you again and again every time you’ve written it, the “he didn’t know about the possible NCAA sanctions” is nonsense- his contract allowed for the possibility.

    One other factual error: the no-penalty transfer window remains open for the entire probation period. Which means more trouble for PSU if he leaves, as you would have to believe that a lot of players would leave as well.

  10. bobzilla1001 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:32 AM

    O’Brien did a terrific job with the offense, especially with quarterback Matt McGloin, but, beyond that, he was unremarkable.
    Not being able to beat OHIO UNIVERSITY on opening day, at home, in front of a packed house, with emotions running high, was an embarrassment.
    He was 2-2 in non-conference games against Ohio U., Virginia, Temple and Navy; and he was 6-2 against the horrific Big 10.
    Bye, Bill.

  11. ll8078 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:32 AM

    everyone here is acting like you wouldn’t take a 25% pay increase (he’ll get 3yr/12m at least) and also be one of the top 32 coaches in the nation, with a decent chance at winning THE MOST coveted prize in all of football.

    Nah, 3 more years of football ending in November sounds better, with worse talent than this year.

    It’s like complaning about Kevin Durant not staying in college……..i mean come on. There’s the big leagues and still the “amateaur” (unpaid) league. He didn’t leave New England to be the PSU coach for the next 30 years

    “When the iron is hot, strike it”

  12. tommyribs says: Jan 2, 2013 9:32 AM

    Bill O’Brien should do what is best for Bill O’Brien, but I personally would really like to see him stay.

    I know that right now things are tough at Penn State, but he has a chance to help do something very special, and that is help re-build a Program, and help a deserving community get some healing and closure.

    He has a chance to do something special.

    The NFL will always be there.

    Bill O’Brien can become a transcendent figure in College Football.

    I know he got the short end of the stick on this one, but he can really show a lot of folks some good values and let his commitment be an example to everyone.

  13. sipe17 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:39 AM

    “unfair punishment’ u say!!!…so child rape being covered up by high-ranking administrators including ur ever-precious paterno—is unfair?….dude u need a reality check—–o’brien shoud run like hell from happy(not-so) valley!!!!!

  14. metalhead65 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:48 AM

    if he leaves and I were a player on that team or a recruit I would sue whoever I had to,to get out of that place. how is it fair a coach can leave to get richer but that players are stuck? the only reason they chose to stay there or to attend was that he promised he would be there and then he can just leave with no problem while they have to sit out? sure you are supposed to commit the school but we all know it comes down to the coach and more so in this case. why else would they choose to go to a place where they know they will not be going to a bowl?

  15. damnsureis says: Jan 2, 2013 9:49 AM

    What’s the point of punishing coaches and players who had nothing to do with the scandal?

  16. mdpickles says: Jan 2, 2013 9:56 AM

    I’m interested in hearing more about Belichek’s views about Roseman. Since Lurie is all about modeling the Patriot way, this is a pretty damning account.

  17. canesgiants says: Jan 2, 2013 10:17 AM

    enough of whats the point of punishing them they didtn do anything. welcome to college football. there really isnt a program that gets caught and the people who did the crime are the ones who pay.

  18. John A. says: Jan 2, 2013 10:31 AM

    O’Brien should never have taken the Penn State job to begin with. What a complete mess it has become.

    And it’s only going to get worse.

  19. kepdogg23 says: Jan 2, 2013 10:39 AM

    If job security has anything to do with his decision, he would stay at Penn State. He has 7 years where he is pretty much guaranteed his coaching spot. If he keeps Penn State relevant(has a top 25 recruiting class coming in this year), he has well over 7 years.

    The NFL turns over coaches every year, and other than the Bears, I don’t see these jobs as very attractive.

  20. eatitfanboy says: Jan 2, 2013 10:43 AM

    I think the whole “coaching tree” thing might be a little over rated.

    Do you honestly think O’Brien, if he chooses to go to the NFL, would refuse to go to the Eagles because his ex-boss doesn’t like the GM?

    Next to maybe the Bears, isn’t the Eagles job probably the best out there? You’ve got a possibly good QB, top ranked talent at RB and WR, and decent pieces elsewhere.

  21. boondocksaint7 says: Jan 2, 2013 10:44 AM

    Can’t blame the guy. Everyone from former coaches, to former administration, to espn, to the NCAA-holes have taken a giant dump on PSU. Why shouldn’t he? It’s what the media and a lot of the sadistic people out there want. They want PSU to suffer and keep suffering. It makes them feel better about their own lives. So O’Brian, give the people what they want! Take a huge dump on PSU! It’s what all the “good and moral” people out there want!

  22. 8man says: Jan 2, 2013 10:46 AM

    I’m not seeing why O’Brien is so attractive to NFL teams. I know things are rough in Happy Valley now, but if he had success last year and if he hangs in and rebuilds that program he could have a great gig for life. Why toss that away to go into the meat grinder that is NFL coaching?

    Not to mention, I think the NCAA is about to get bitch slapped for their onerous penalties on PSU. Things could improve at PSU in a hurry if that law suit gets traction.

  23. ll8078 says: Jan 2, 2013 10:46 AM

    NFL will always be there? Will the Big Ten always be this terrible? Will Penn State get better while losing X number of scholarships every year?

    He will NEVER be this desirable to the NFL. No one is hiring him after Penn State goes 3-8 in 2015.

  24. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Jan 2, 2013 10:47 AM

    Does anyone realize how good this must look to recruits? A lot of PSU fans are worried, but the more informed ones seem to be pretty confident he’s staying. O’Brien just doesn’t seem like the type of guy to go against everything he stands for, or at least stood for last year. Can’t ever be sure, but seems to me (and part of this is definitely me hoping) that he’s just keeping his name out there so everyone knows he could have a head coaching job at the NFL level if he wanted it.

  25. justwinsomeday says: Jan 2, 2013 10:47 AM

    O’Brien is in a position to transcend the (unfair) restrictions that were imposed upon PSU football, impact the lives of many (far beyond sports), and seriously make a positive difference to many in need within the PSU family. It’s not often anyone is provided this kind of opportunity.

    I get the arguments about doing what’s best for him and his family. But let’s face it, at PSU he’ll make more than enough $ to take care of his family for generations to come and he can create a well deserved legacy if he continues doing the things he has to this point. This is more than the average X’s & O’sfootball coach could ever hope to do.

    I personally hope he practices what he preaches. It would be refreshing in a winning is everything focused world.

  26. basedrum777 says: Jan 2, 2013 10:53 AM

    College football programs are designed to harm the college as a whole by showing that there was a lack of guidance at the President level which is reflective of the University.

  27. wilclarke says: Jan 2, 2013 10:54 AM

    Bill O’Brien was a well established nice guy in the the NFL, not great nor good as an offensive coordinator, but just ok!

    This years offensive resurgence and obvious communication extraordinaire between Brady and McDaniels is proof positive that O’Brien had short comings which consistently cost the Patriots big wins.

    The NFL should play “hands-off” till O’Brien develops his skill set.

  28. mungman69 says: Jan 2, 2013 11:02 AM

    Times yours, Bill.

  29. cliverush says: Jan 2, 2013 11:15 AM

    The situation says stay at PSU. He can develop a solid reputation and enhance his leadership skills. The fan base will be with the team through the discipline process and support you. The work load is a lot less and multiple opportunities for an NFL position come up every year.

  30. 1zxcvbnm says: Jan 2, 2013 11:38 AM

    Having teams interested in you as a coach is NOT the same the coach being interested in a new job.

    O’Brien is at the top of the world right now. He has a firm commitment from a “franchise” QB [ranked #1 or #2 in the country], and with his family sitation as it is, I do not see him leaving this year. The psu alums see him as a savior. He can do no wrong. Unless he leaves and screws all the kids he lauded for their loyalty.

    I think either the story of his dissatisfaction is wrong, or it is partially true, with the goal being a raise at PSU, not an NFL job.

  31. vegasdestroyer says: Jan 2, 2013 11:49 AM

    Penn State would have a decision to make IF there was any truth to the story. However, BOB’s agent said he was staying. PERIOD. End of Story.

    If BOB’s or his agent’s word is worthless and he does interview for another job, Penn State should let him GO. NOW. If Penn State meant that it would change the culture about telling the truth, there is no place for liars there.

  32. coys10 says: Jan 2, 2013 11:52 AM

    Bill Belichick would never let someone he cared about place the future of his livelihood with Howie Roseman’s “evaluations.”

  33. newagerocker says: Jan 2, 2013 11:54 AM

    Howie Roseman is held in “low regard” – by everyone in Philadelphia as well. If you see the Jeff Lurie, fire Roseman so i can start enjoying games again. Or I’ll be one of the people waving goodbye as I leave in the middle of the game so you can stare any my empty seats, again.

  34. fissels says: Jan 2, 2013 11:58 AM

    We Penn State fans surely appreciate the job he did last year under the circumstances. I hope stays and finishes the job he started. He would put himself in an even better situation 5 or so years from now.

    However, if he decides to leave, I would be very disappointed but someone else would inherit a better situation than it was a year ago.

  35. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jan 2, 2013 12:21 PM

    As someone astutely pointed out, the damage may already be done.

    By Coach O’Brien’s failing to adamantly and unequivocally squelch all the buzz about him considering an NFL interview, we can consider that successfully undermining his commitment. Not good for a coach who preached loyalty, sacrifice and rising above adversity.

    Other wicked blows to Coach O’Brien’s cred include his merely committing to coaching through the 2013 season. Another example is his conveying sentiments to the effect that Penn State got hammered harder by the NCAA than he had been led to believe. How about all the evasive squirmy responses when questioned?

    There have to be a lot of Penn State ballers watching some high profile bowl games, most in nice warm weather cities — and just contemplating where this ship is headed.

    If I’m “Penn State Nation,” I want a leader who practices what he preaches. If you sell commitment, loyalty and sacrifice — live it yourself, or it comes off as hypocritical, manipulative, self-serving and insincere. C’mon Coach O’Brien — this is your chance to shine brightly or slink down a dark path.

    One last thought: if (still a very big IF at this point) Coach O’Brien turns his back on what he started — any player who’s ever been coached by Bill O’Brien may feel they have good reason to question his character.

    I have a lot of respect for Coach right now, but IF he reverses field on this one — that respect will be shaken to me, and probably others as well.

  36. flyeaglefly says: Jan 2, 2013 1:33 PM

    True, O’Brien didn’t put anything “out” there about leaving, so why put the onus on him…
    SIMPLE…we’ve had no remarks from him, “period” that he’s NOT leaving Un-Happy Valley in 3-4 days since this story broke….if he truly WAS staying, why hasn’t he gone public to offset these so-called rumours? Why you ask? Because they’re 90% true and he probably will bolt with the right offer and someone bailing him out of his penalty clause…consider him GONE!

  37. bleedblackngold96 says: Jan 2, 2013 3:54 PM

    if the PA state gov’t wins its suit against the NCAA and the sanctions are lifted then these O’Brien to NFL talks are gonna stop

  38. oldbyrd says: Jan 2, 2013 6:02 PM

    I wouldn’t be thrilled if The Eagles signed him. I hope Im wrong if that happens. NFL Head Coach……..Oh Boy

  39. cranespy says: Jan 2, 2013 6:25 PM

    $50 says he stays.

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