There have been various accounts and reports regarding the magnitude of the buyout necessary to extricate Bill O’Brien from his contract at Penn State after only one season. Whatever it was, it played a role in O’Brien’s decision to stay put.
Per a league source, while O’Brien was drawing interest at the NFL level, he couldn’t find anyone to write the check to Penn State.
Of course, that’s not how O’Brien is spinning it. “I’m not a one-and-done guy,” O’Brien said, via David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News. “I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that’s what I am going to do. I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure.”
So why did he interview with the Browns, if he wasn’t going to “cut and run” after one year?
It likely was all about leverage, about getting Penn State to step up with a higher salary or, perhaps in the future, a lower buyout. Per Jones, O’Brien’s flirtation with the NFL finagled a $1.3 million raise.
We don’t fault O’Brien for now creating the impression he didn’t consider leaving. He’s not a bad guy for considering doing one thing and saying he always intended to do another; he’s simply being what he is — a college football coach.