Bill O’Brien refuses to say if he’ll consider NFL jobs


Bill O’Brien, who quit his job as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator to become the head coach at Penn State this year, is a strong candidate for the national coach of the year award in college football. The Penn State team, which could have fallen apart in the wake of NCAA sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, has actually played impressive football and compiled a 7-4 record.

Unfortunately for Penn State fans, that impressive season has people talking about the possibility that NFL teams could offer head-coaching positions to O’Brien. And even more unfortunately for Penn State fans, O’Brien is refusing to rule that possibility out.

After Penn State beat Indiana today, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that O’Brien will not commit to being at Penn State in 2013. Instead, O’Brien is simply saying that all of his focus is on Penn State’s season-ending game against Wisconsin.

“That’s not something that I even think about,” O’Brien said when asked if he’ll return in 2013. “I think about that I’m the head football coach at Penn State. And I’m looking forward to getting this team ready for Wisconsin. I mean, we give legs to a story that’s not even there.”

When Jason La Canfora of CBS reported this week that O’Brien is expected to be pursued by NFL teams, what Penn State fans hoped to hear was a direct answer along the lines of, “I will remain at Penn State next year and will not consider any other job offers.” That’s not what he said, and that has people in Pennsylvania wondering if O’Brien wants to leave.

But the reality is that even if O’Brien had answered directly and clearly and said he will absolutely, positively coach Penn State next year, that still wouldn’t put to rest any speculation about his future. Everyone in the coaching business can thank Alabama coach Nick Saban, who famously said “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach” shortly before he took the job, for the fact that no one believes anything any coach says about his future anymore.

What we know for sure about O’Brien is that he’s been the offensive coordinator of an excellent offensive team that got to the Super Bowl, and he’s been a college head coach who pulled his team together and got them playing well under tough circumstances. That’s the kind of resume NFL owners will love. So no one should be surprised to see him back in the NFL.

27 responses to “Bill O’Brien refuses to say if he’ll consider NFL jobs

  1. I don’t think he’d leave. He took on a job that nobody wanted, which really shows commitment. And in a few years when all the sanctions are gone, he’ll look like the savior for reviving Penn State if they keep playing well.

  2. IMO O’Brien isn’t the problem for not answering the question. The question shouldn’t even be asked, but if it is no one should expect or demand an answer.

    Consider: if anyone here were asked if they would leave their current job for a better offer under any circumstances, but a “yes” answer was going to be held against you, what would you say?

  3. He has about 9.2 million reasons why he won’t jump ship…

    Michael David Smith: Any NFL owner who’s convinced O’Brien is the guy to lead his team to the Super Bowl would gladly shell out $9.2 million to get him away from Penn State.

  4. $9.2M – that’s what it will take to buy out Bill O’Brien’s contract at Penn State.

    This amount will decrease by $2.3M per year, so it’s $6.9M in 2014, $4.6M in 2015, and $2.3M in 2016.

    Even 2013’s cost isn’t prohibitive for an NFL owner to consider, given head coaches are making $5M+ per year. However, it’s a nice chunk of change to put up just to see how a guy runs OTAs.

  5. Belichick retires and New England goes into the dark ages no matter who the coach. And, Kraft does not look like a guy who is going to like it when the spotlight is taken off of him.

  6. “Kraft does not look like a guy who is going to like it when the spotlight is taken off of him.”


    Robert Kraft was a season ticket holder before he bought the team. He sat on aluminum bench seats during New England winters in a crappy outdoor stadium. He built a new stadium with his own money – think about that, Minnesota. And he gives more money to charity in an average day than you make in an entire year. And he helped break the lockout so that you could watch football while his wife was dying. What kind of a guy do you think he is again?

  7. Hey Lenny where’s Squiggie?

    Most Pats haters hope they go to they go to the dark ages. You’ve been waiting a long time and you’ll be waiting even longer.

  8. Just like most coaches who preach loyalty and toughness (ahem…Nick Saban); when the going gets tough they’re off like a prom dress

  9. If you are a NFL team you should not even consider Bill O’Brien. There were talks that Penn State was getting a good recruiting class despite the off-field controversy. Who knows if if the players are playing the “us against the world” card or if O’Brien is that good.

    Most importantly, he has only been a head coach at any level for one season. Greg Schiano, Jim Harbaugh, and Pete Caroll were head coaches in college football for multiple years and we Have not seen a happy enough of body of work from O’Brien. I do believe that he has something to do with Penn State’s success because Tom Bradley did such a bad job and was never given it head-coaching job outside of Happy valley prior to 2011 Or a position on any college coaching staff this year.

    However, we all know about the moral side of staying at Penn State And based on track record NFL teams should stay away from former Bill Belichick assistants. Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennel, and Josh McDaniels have all struggled or have had more bad seasons than good. Plus, whenever a Belichick assistant left Cleveland or New England the success that they found was in college. Nick Saban, Pat Hill, Kirk Ferentz, and currently Bill O’Brien are examples. I know that many teams need to change their head coach, but if you see great improvers of talents within coaching staffs the likelihood of them being good head coaches Is better.

  10. I read preseason predictions for Penn State to finish 6-6 or 7-5. If they beat Wisconsin next week, they will finish 8-4…out-performing the predictions by a little. He’s done an excellent job keeping the Nittanies from falling appart, and he will no doubt get some coach-of-the-year votes, but the winner really has to be Bill Snyder, followed by Kevin Sumlin.

    As for his future prospects, NFL teams should consider him exactly because of how well he’s handled adversity. He, in turn, should consider such offers–not so much because it’s the NFL and a nice pay increase, but because he has to now know the job at PSU is only going to get harder. This year they have a bowl ban and had some players transfer out, most of which were not starters. Next he will have to face trying to recruit kids to come to PSU despite knowing they won’t get to go to a bowl unless they buy a ticket until their senior year. A few more players are likely to transfer. The scholarship restrictions also take effect next year, so they will start having serious depth problems starting next year as well. Other schools’ recruiters are also guaranteed to use O’Brien’s possible departure as a weapon against them as well. Also, the Sandusky case will still be front-and-center at PSU until every trial and every appeal is done, including every lawsuit. Normalcy there is much farther off than O’Brien probably realized when he signed his contract.

  11. I really hope when he took that job he intended to stay for at least a few years no matter who came calling.

    It would be a tremendous kick in the shorts to a fan base that has been kicked in the shorts enough in the last 12 months.

    I wouldn’t make much of his refusal to completely rule it out. College coaches are wired to never completely deny interest in other jobs so that their AD will extend their contract ever time they have a good season.

  12. Bill O’Brien: “I mean, we give legs to a story that’s not even there.”

    Wrong Bill. You’re giving legs to the story because you won’t answer the question. Your non answer means that you will, in fact, consider an NFL offer should you get one. I don’t blame you. If the NFL is your goal as a HC then you certainly have every right to leave. But don’t say the press is giving legs to a story that doesn’t exist when your vagueness is what’s giving legs to this story.

    I’d love to know what the PSU players – the current team members who were talked into staying, and the commitments for the ’13 recruiting class who were told that O’Brien was going to be their HC – think of O’Brien’s non answer. Yet another coach who preaches loyalty and team above all else… until he gets a better job offer then that’s out the window. More NCAA hypocrisy.

  13. That’s nine million bucks they can use to pay off their legal obligations.

    Then they could hire Tom Bradley, a real Penn Stater, who they should have picked in the first place.

  14. Given that the Penn State family “welcomed” him with a “how dare you think you can coach the Penn State team instead of someone whose been here a long time” and openly did not want him to go there, why would anyone be surprised that he won’t commit to staying.

    Talk about a bunch of flip flop fans, a few wins and now they love the guy after treating him like crap ?

  15. Then they could hire Tom Bradley, a real Penn Stater, who they should have picked in the first place.

    What the? “Real Penn Staters” are the people who got you into this mess in the first place.

  16. macker:
    There’s zero conclusive evidence to prove “who got you into this mess in the first place.” Joe Paterno was ousted without proper due process, which, unfortunately, has become the American way…
    As for O’Brien: While he has developed Matt McGloin into a quality passer, he hasn’t exactly distinguished himself as a head coach. Penn State was unable to beat either of the only two good teams on its schedule: Ohio State and Nebraska.
    O’Brien is a great OC.
    But he has yet to establish himself as a proven head coach…

  17. If you’d ever seen a BOB presser or read a transcript from one, you’d know that this is how he responds to any question that he doesn’t find relevant. I certainly think NFL teams will be interested, and maybe BOB himself would be willing to listen… But his response to this question is not as intriguing as you think and isn’t any kind of hint. It’s just BOB being BOB.

  18. Unless his ego tells him otherwise, if he brings Penn State back to respectability he can name his price to remain commensurate with NFL salaries. Of course the NFL doesn’t have meddling Alums to deal with.

  19. If he is the guy that took a job and convinced everyone as an outsider that he’s in it to win it, regardless of the circumstances…and then leaves after one year – that’s a coach you don’t want leading your team.

    You don’t as an owner, want a guy jumping ship as soon as the next green field appears on the other side of the fence.

    Bill O’Brien would do well to fill out his resume a bit further before entertaining another HC elsewhere…especially at the NFL level. It’s also too early to tell if he can actually identify talent, recruit them, and lead that talent to a winning record.

    That said…I give the guy credit for leading his guys every Saturday. He’s done better than I think most thought he would. As a Pats fan…I don’t miss his obtuse playcalling though.

  20. Why is Saban still taking flack. It’s not like he invented lying. Some coach that came well before his time did.

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