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O’Brien may not be a sure thing to jump to NFL

OBrien AP

If an NFL team wants to hire Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, the current cost of buying out his contract reportedly exceeds $6 million.  Before an owner can choose to pay that amount (or a reduced payment possibly to be negotiated), O’Brien must choose to leave Penn State.

At a time when more and more NFL observers and insiders believe it’s a no-brainer that O’Brien will bolt the place known oxymoronically of late as Happy Valley, it may not be a sure thing.  Emily Kaplan explores the situation in an item for Peter King’s TheMMQB.com, painting a picture that does not yet clearly point to the NFL.

Less than two years removed from crippling Sandusky-fueled sanctions and still two seasons away from the ability to compete for bowl games, O’Brien could decide to continue the job he took after serving as Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator in New England.

“He came in with a difficult situation and stuck with it,” Penn State senior safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong said.  “He gave us his word. And we stuck around for him.”

O’Brien wouldn’t be the first (or the last) football coach to say one thing and done another, and it would be hard to fault him for making a money grab at the next level.  But family considerations also come into play, given that O’Brien’s 11-year-old son, Jack, has a medical condition that prevents him from walking or talking and results in near-daily seizures.  The O’Briens reportedly have a high degree of comfort with the local medical care Jack is receiving and the elementary school Jack is attending; uprooting him from that while at the same time finding an acceptable replacement in a new city will present a considerable challenge.

Here’s where a cynic — I don’t know any, but I think they all may be lying — would question whether O’Brien is merely trying to hold together next year’s recruiting class while he waits for an ideal offer that may not come this year, or whether he’s crafting an I-didn’t-want-to-go-to-the-NFL-anyway narrative in the event that no owner decides not to fork over the money necessary to buy out O’Brien’s NFL contract and then to pay him millions more, despite the reality that the Belichick coaching tree has sprouted far more failure than fruit.

Regardless, it may be too early to assume that O’Brien automatically will leave Penn State, even though his name has popped to the top of the NFL’s “A” list.

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19 Responses to “O’Brien may not be a sure thing to jump to NFL”
  1. craniator says: Dec 26, 2013 6:17 PM

    He’s sort of a Rex Ryan lookalike.

  2. arwiv says: Dec 26, 2013 6:18 PM

    The only reason Obrien wouldn’t leave is because his dream job, the Giants, wont be vacated in 2014. He should hold out another year and then look to get the Giants job in 2015. If it isn’t by that point, then he needs to go in another direction.

  3. nflfootballfan says: Dec 26, 2013 6:21 PM

    Anyone who knows PSU or Bill O’Brien knows what kind of man he is. I would be shocked if he left before 2016 when his contract is up. He truly is committed to the kids especially since they were committed to him in a tough time.

  4. whatjusthapped says: Dec 26, 2013 6:23 PM

    O’Brien is staying at Penn State and in the highly unlikely event he does jump up to the NFL, why Minnesota? The idea is to coach at a level higher than Penn State and the Vikings would have their hands full against the college boys and Penn State has a better QB.

  5. gb4mn0 says: Dec 26, 2013 6:24 PM

    Please join me in raising a glass of Holiday cheer and “skol” the vikqueens and their 3rd double digit loss season out of the past 4 and their 53rd season of being irrelevant. SKOL SKOL SKOL!!

  6. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Dec 26, 2013 6:25 PM

    A big concern for Penn State has to be the reports O’Brien seeks to reduce the buyout clause – if these reports are factually accurate of course.

    Why would O’Brien (reportedly) be pressing to have this sum reduced if he had no intention of jumping ship?

    I really hope he stays. O’Brien’s players bought in to him and the whole loyalty and sacrifice pitch — so what would be right would be for O’Brien to return serve. If he did, it would really set him apart from a LOT of college coaches (Lame Kitten and Nick Satan are two that come to mind).

  7. zam0854 says: Dec 26, 2013 6:25 PM

    So what would his options be? Texans, maybe Titans, maybe Jets, maybe Lions, and the Redskins.

    Who the hell would want to go coach for these organizations? I only feel bad for Megatron in Detroit.

    Bill, you and I both know you’re staying at PSU and starting a dynasty.

  8. metalhead65 says: Dec 26, 2013 6:29 PM

    so in other words you are just covering your ass in case the rumor you started might not be true? wow I am shocked he might actually stay since he has never said anything about leaving.

  9. texanfan62 says: Dec 26, 2013 6:36 PM

    The Texans want this guy, but McNair is I think being el-cheapo in not wanting to pay the Penn State Buyout. If they can’t get him, David Shaw is the only other person I would want them to get. Someone that’s the opposite of what Kubiak was, passive.If they can’t get Shaw, then maybe Mike Sherman. Lovie Smith and Wisenhunt are too passive. These guys need a maniac to coach them.

  10. texanfan62 says: Dec 26, 2013 6:39 PM

    When I said “maniac” I meant someone to change the “Culture” of the Texans Franchise.This Team has been too”‘nice” and passive. They need toughness and intestinal fortitude.

  11. randomcommenter says: Dec 26, 2013 6:49 PM

    O’Brien is a Boston guy. His dream job is likely the pats. I think he stays at PSU until Belicheck retires. Belicheck is 61 so in 5 years or so, he may be ready to hang it up.

    Why lower his buyout if he’s not leaving? Because it gives him leverage in future negotiations. If PSU is willing to do that then he must be giving up something as well. Maybe he is narrowing the list of teams he’s allowed to leave for.

    PSU is in good shape to win big in the near future. Most college analysts think 2014 will be the last year of bowl ban reducing the original penalty from 4 to 3 year ban. The NCAA already reduced the harshest part of the sanctions, the scholarship reduction.

    O’Brien has a great young QB who was the top QB recruit last year. he started every game as a freshman and threw for nearly 3000. He hs already recruited top TE and WR prospects and currently has a top 25 recruiting class even with sanctions.

    O’Brien has it good where he is, and won’t jump for just any job. Cost of living is peanuts in State College and he likely gets money from Nike on the side as many college coaches do. Even if he got double the salary from an NFL team, he may end up with less net income.

  12. jimw81 says: Dec 26, 2013 6:51 PM

    Bill O’Brien better off staying at Penn State. the opening head coaching jobs are teams that are in a mess. As for him staying at Penn State, it depends who named president and AD. Joyner and Erickson are leaving Penn State soon.

  13. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Dec 26, 2013 7:37 PM

    I think the Pats are his dream job, but he probably won’t want to wait long enough for BB to retire. Brady and Belicheck will go out together, and Brady will probably want to atleast finish out his current contract. O’Brien will only leave if the team he chooses has a franchise type QB in place.

  14. bghaze7 says: Dec 26, 2013 7:53 PM

    This is a great way for people to understand why medical marijuana has medical purposes that help. Not saying his son or his family uses this but in a lot of seizure purposed medical situations where they cant figure out certain triggers of those seizures in an individual they use an a chemical in marijuana called CBD and it helps control seizures to the point where their non apparent after the first use. It saves lives and so many people are great flu for it. Here’s to hoping they find what they need to help their son and I hope some of you gained knowledge in certain medical purposes of marijuana

  15. The Doctor says: Dec 26, 2013 8:22 PM

    Wouldn’t mind Ken Whisenhunt. I like the way he coaches, and he led the Cardinals to a Super Bowl, something none of our coaches have been able to do since Bud.

  16. metalhead65 says: Dec 26, 2013 9:00 PM

    if he wants to leave I hope penn state holds him to the letter of his contract. you gives us 6 million or you stay here end of story.

  17. mattlion says: Dec 26, 2013 9:51 PM

    As a Penn State alum, I wouldn’t hold it against him if he left – but the grass isn’t always greener. If I was him, the only team I would consider leaving for is Houston. The roster is talented, he will likely be able to draft a franchise QB to develop, and the franchise doesn’t have a lot of issues as a whole that would make it an unattractive head job. Heck, they kept giving Kubiak a lot of chances to turn things around.

    I agree with the poster above that said New England is his dream job, but can he wait long enough? His stock at PSU will continue to increase for the next 1-2 years but when the sanctions are lifted, there could be more pressure to win.

  18. pillowporkers says: Dec 26, 2013 10:52 PM

    The Mayo Clinic is only a little over an hour or so south of the twin cities.

  19. Frazier28/7 says: Dec 27, 2013 1:22 PM

    Hmm… an offensive minded coach who is a prick and had success in the NFL thanks to the head coach he was with… sound familiar to another former head coach of the Vikings that the fanbase hated?

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