Bill O’Brien will remain Penn State University’s football coach after leading the team to an 8-4 record in its first season since unprecedented penalties in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal.
The 43-year-old O’Brien received calls from five National Football League teams but no discussions advanced past the initial conversations, his agent, Joe Linta of JL Sports, said today in a telephone interview. O’Brien’s decision to stay at the State College, Pennsylvania, school was an easy one, the agent said.
“This year made such an impact on his life with the bond that he felt and came to with the school and specifically the players and kids he spent the year recruiting,” Linta said. He did not say how long O’Brien anticipated staying at Penn State but called the commitment “long-term.”
A former assistant with the NFL’s New England Patriots, O’Brien was hired in January to follow Joe Paterno, who coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years before being fired for his inaction following the disclosure of molestation of boys by Sandusky, a former coach.
In June, the National Collegiate Athletic Association handed the school and football team unprecedented sanctions for its handling of those allegations, including a $60 million fine, and a four-year postseason ban. The team was also stripped of 112 wins from 1998 through 2011 and lost 20 total scholarships annually for the four seasons. The state of Pennsylvania sued the NCAA this week to challenge the penalties.
O’Brien is scheduled next season to receive a $1.3 million raise, paid for by a private donor, which will bring his total compensation to about $3.5 million, according to the Associated Press.
Linta, who has represented O’Brien for the past year and a half, declined to comment on whether or not O’Brien would re-negotiate the five-year contract he signed last year.
“I don’t think if anyone offered him $10 million a year, he would have taken it,” Linta said. “This decision was made unilaterally and irrespectively of money from the school or money from any NFL offer.”
The Nittany Lions finished their season with a 24-21 overtime victory over the University of Wisconsin, which lost earlier this week in the Rose Bowl.
ESPN reported that the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns were interested in O’Brien.
-- Editors: Michael Sillup, Jay Beberman