Bill O’Brien has done a phenomenal job in 2012 in his first year as head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, especially when you consider the sanctions and controversy. O’Brien has led Penn State to a 5-2 start in a season where many people did not think that the Nittany Lions would win five games all season long. Although it may be just his first year at Penn State, he will be one of the hottest college football coaching commodities after this season. But even if he decides it may be in his best coaching interest to leave the Nittany Lions, he may not be able to afford the opportunity.
Penn State can win many games over the next few years. They are not winning the Big 10 Championship. They are not going to a BCS Bowl game. They are not playing for the BCS Championship. The sanctions may not be hurting the Nittany Lions on the field, but they will still take their toll on the program for years to come.
But through it all, O’Brien has the team believing that they can win. He has helped his kids put everything behind them and has them prepared to win every game they enter, coming out on top in five straight after losing their first two games of the 2012 season. One was to the undefeated Ohio Bobcats and the other was a one point loss to Virginia Cavaliers that they rightfully should have won with a better kicker.
The schedule will not get easier for Penn State, but it does not get much more difficult either. With games against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Purdue Boilermakers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Indiana Hoosiers and Wisconsin Badgers, Penn State is likely to finish with a winning record, and could even finish as well as 8-4 or 7-5. It will be largely in part to the leadership of O’Brien through tumultuous times.
While that will make him a strong candidate for one of the top coaches this season, it will also make him a great candidate to hear his name mentioned when other schools look to replace their head coaches after this season. While none of them have made a move as of yet, some of those openings could include the Texas Longhorns, Auburn Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers. O’Brien’s name is likely to come up for any and all major openings this offseason.
Just don’t expect him to take any of them.
According to Cory Giger of AltoonaMirror.com, O’Brien’s agent already said that his client is not going anywhere. Not this year or next. He implied that if O’Brien had any intention of leaving Penn State, it would have been around the time that the school was hit with NCAA sanctions.
That is one point, but here is another thing to consider before thinking that it would make sense for O’Brien to jump ship for a school who is actually eligible to play meaningful postseason games any time soon.
It would be rather costly. And I don’t just mean for one year.
O’Brien’s contract stipulates that if he leaves before the contract is up, he has to buy out the remaining years on the deal. All of them.
O’Brien signed a five-year contract with a base pay of just under $1 million per season with additional compensation of $1 million per year for radio and television deals and a lucrative endorsement deal from Nike. That makes for an annual total of nearly $2.5 million.
If O’Brien leaves Penn State early, he would have to buy out that entire amount per year, not just his base pay. I’m just not sure that there is an attractive enough job out there for O’Brien to consider paying back that large of a sum.
Not Texas. Not Tennessee. Not Auburn.
Not any team.
Perhaps, not even the NFL. Even they would be unlikely to offer enough money to O’Brien to offset the amount he would have to pay back to Penn State.