STATE COLLEGE (AP) – Bill O’Brien is staying at Penn State.
O’Brien’s agent, Joseph Linta, said Thursday night that the Nittany Lions’ head coach garnered interest from several NFL teams for vacant jobs at the next level.
But Linta said the “heartstrings” of O’Brien’s experience from Penn State’s 8-4 season in his first year outweighed the potentially big raise he could have received as an NFL head coach. He said O’Brien made the decision to stay at Penn State and not move forward with potential NFL opportunities Thursday.
O’Brien has been lauded for guiding Penn State to a successful season following strict NCAA sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The decision wasn’t hard in the end, Linta said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “His loyalty to the team and those kids was a really strong bond … Although he loves the NFL and loves coaching, the experience this year with those kids was the opportunity of a lifetime for him.”
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported earlier Thursday night that O’Brien had interviewed with the Browns.
At least five teams reached out to O’Brien, but the discussions weren’t thought to have reached a serious level.
Linta declined to identify the teams showing interest in his client. He said there would probably be discussions about O’Brien’s current contract.
“The leverage he has at Penn State is his integrity,” Linta said.
O’Brien was in line to receive a $1.3 million raise to be funded by a private donor, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the person did not have authority to discuss the matter.
The bump in salary would increase O’Brien’s total compensation package to about $3.5 million. He signed a five-year deal at Penn State almost exactly a year ago, leaving a successful stint as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator.
The NCAA penalties handed down in July triggered a clause in O’Brien’s contract that extends his deal the length of any sanctions handed down, so O’Brien’s deal now runs through 2020.
The sanctions include a four-year postseason ban that began with the 2012 season; and steep scholarship cuts which take effect with the 2013 recruiting class to be finalized next month.
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