As Penn State coach Bill O’Brien explores, presumably, an opportunity with the NFL, he’ll be negotiating with the help of someone other than the agent who helped O’Brien land — and then stay — at Penn State.
Earlier this year, Joe Linta and O’Brien parted ways. It’s a split that Linta called “amicable” and “mutual” during a Sunday morning telephone conversation with PFT.
“I’m sure in my old age I got on his nerves,” Linta said of O’Brien.
Linta was contacted because rumors are circulating that their relationship became strained after O’Brien second-guessed Linta’s advice to stay at Penn State last year. While Linta denied the notion that he fired O’Brien or that O’Brien fired Linta, the fact remains that O’Brien secured a reduced buyout for NFL opportunities since deciding in January and remain with Penn State. The buyout, the prior magnitude of which has been overstated in media reports, initially was negotiated by Linta but then finalized after the two sides separated.
O’Brien currently is represented by Neil Cornrich.
While Linta has taken the high road publicly — and likely would do so privately — any owner thinking about hiring O’Brien would be wise to fully explore the reasons for the parting of agent and client, especially with the client having a reputation for being a bit of a hothead.
For the Texans, O’Brien’s ability to work and play well with others becomes particularly important to G.M. Rick Smith, who’ll have to work with the new coach. Smith could prefer someone like Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt or the more laid-back styles of Lovie Smith and Wade Phillips over the one guy who once got in the face of Tom Brady.
Adding in a buyout clause that puts the price of pilfering O’Brien near $7 million, and all this talk of O’Brien being the clubhouse leader in Houston could be aimed at ensuring that he’ll eventually win the tournament elsewhere.
Linta officially hopes O’Brien wins the position in Houston.
“I hope he gets the job and I’d hug him if I saw him right now,” Linta said.