By David Jones, Harrisburg Patriot News
Penn State’s long holiday nightmare is over. Bill O’Brien is staying at Penn State.
In an exclusive conversation, the second-year head coach confirmed that he was contacted by and entertained overtures from multiple NFL clubs through his agent Joe Linta. But he has decided to remain at PSU for at least the 2013 season.
“I’m a man of my word. I am what I am. Maybe I get fired in six years. But I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure.”
In addition to a clear testing of the pro head coaching waters, this was a strategic mission of sorts by O’Brien. By having Linta throw his name open to NFL openings and having the agent field offers, he was able to gain additional leverage that allowed him a chance to accomplish structural and personnel changes in the Penn State athletic department that may be forthcoming. O’Brien declined to be specific about those changes when asked but he did not deny those aims.
O’Brien acknowledged that PSU donor Terry Pegula, financier of the new Penn State hockey arena, has been a major ally in his efforts. Pegula was the first person who contacted O’Brien in late 2011 when he was eventually interviewed for the job.
Though O’Brien was not specific about it, high-level PSU sources have told me that a $1.3 million donation is to be added to O’Brien’s salary in the coming year that will bump his total compensation to $3.6 million and place him behind only Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($4.3M) and Iowa‘s Kirk Ferentz ($3.8M) as the third-highest-paid coach in the Big Ten.