Report: Bill O’Brien staying at Penn State after exploring NFL opportunities

gciprian@centredaily.comJanuary 3, 2013 

Bill O’Brien has solidified plans to return to Penn State for a second season.

O’Brien informed Penn State officials on Thursday night that he plans to remain at the school. He revealed his decision to pennlive.com less than three hours after The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported that O’Brien interviewed with the Cleveland Browns earlier this week.

The decision ends an uneasy four-day period for Penn State. Seven NFL jobs, including multiple high-profile positions, became available on Monday.

“I’m not a one-and-done guy,” O’Brien told pennlive. “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.”

A Penn State spokesman didn’t return messages Thursday night. O’Brien’s agent, Joe Linta, couldn’t be reached for comment.

O’Brien’s ability to guide Penn State through the early stages of the NCAA sanctions against the school and his past experiences with the New England Patriots made him an attractive candidate to several NFL teams. Penn State went 8-4 in O’Brien’s first season after an 0-2 start, and fninshed second in the Big Ten Leaders Division with a 6-2 record in league play.

O’Brien worked with the New England Patriots from 2007-11, rising to the organization’s offensive coordinator in 2011. Joyner, who headed a six-person search committee, selected O’Brien as Joe Paterno’s permanent replacement last Jan. 6.

The NFL interest might have forced Penn State to alter O’Brien’s contract.

His current base salary is $950,000, according to the version of his contract posted online by Penn State. He also receives $1 million for media and public relations appearances and $350,000 from an apparel deal with Nike, bringing his annual salary to $2.3 million. His base salary increases by 5 percent beginning July 1, 2013. The raise is valued at $47,500.

Four years remain on O’Brien’s initial five-year contract. The deal was extended four years because of the sanctions and runs through 2020. O’Brien is required to pay Penn State for the remaining years on his deal if he leaves the school before the contract expires. The buyout for the initial four years on the contract is valued at more than $9.2 million. It’s unclear whether the four years added because of the sanctions apply to the buyout. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is valued at $1.2 billion, according to Forbes.

This marks the second time in less than a year a high-profile Penn State coach has reportedly interviewed for another job. Women’s basketball coach Coquese Washington parlayed interest from Big Ten rival Michigan last spring into a contract extension and pay raise. Washington’s compensation package is now valued at close to $700,000 per year.

Cael Sanderson, who has led Penn State to two NCAA wrestling titles, received a contract extension through 2017 last summer. Terms of Sanderson’s deal weren’t released by the school.

The Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals are also looking for new coaches. Former Eagles coach Andy Reid is the leading candidate for the Kansas City job.

O’Brien overhauled Penn State’s football program after his hiring, bringing in eight new coaches, ordering changes in the strength and conditioning program and altering the uniforms to include names on the back last year.

Penn State ended the season with a 24-21 overtime victory over Wisconsin last Nov. 24.

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