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Report: Browns have already interviewed Bill O’Brien

Bill O'Brien AP

With the Cleveland Browns reportedly targeting Oregon’s Chip Kelly as their next head coach, the NFL club has apparently been doing its due diligence in case they swing and miss.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and citing an unnamed source, the Browns have already interviewed Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien for their vacancy.  The interview allegedly took place at some point earlier this week.

It had been speculated on earlier in the week that O’Brien had been seriously considering listening to NFL overtures.

O’Brien has been with the Nittany Lions for just one season, but was hired before the NCAA slammed the football program with historic sanctions that may or may not stick.  It’s been rumored that his buyout is all little as $9.s million and as much as just over $18 million.

The Browns as well as the Philadelphia Eagles have, at least in large part, focused their search on coaches from the collegiate level.  Kelly is expected to be interviewed by the Browns tomorrow, followed by interviews with the Eagles and Buffalo Bills if the AFC North team can’t seal the deal immediately.

The Eagles have also been mentioned as an NFL club that will make a “heavy push” for O’Brien; it’s unknown if Philly has followed the Browns’ purported lead and already talked to the Nittany Lions coach.

Finally, in other Browns-related coaching news involving a college coach, Chris Mortensen of reported earlier today that Cleveland interviewed Syracuse’s Doug Marrone in Arizona.  Marrone was expected to interview with the Bills this week as well.

UPDATED 8:48 p.m. ET: According to Pete Thamel of, “Penn State is in the midst of a massive push to keep O’Brien… and has received positive indications that he’s strongly considering staying.”

Thamel went on to write “that the university is tugging at O’Brien’s heartstrings and attachment to the school that gave him his break to be a head coach.”

Whether or not the heartstring tugging, in concert with what’s expected to be the requisite bump in pay, will be enough to keep O’Brien in Happy Valley remains to be seen.

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9 Responses to “Report: Browns have already interviewed Bill O’Brien”
  1. dhlions says: Jan 3, 2013 7:47 PM

    And I wasn’t going to drink tonight…

  2. nittanybluehen says: Jan 3, 2013 8:21 PM

    He’s gone if he gets an offer. PSU’s recruiting class will fall apart and they’ll lose more players to transfer than last year. Could get bad.

  3. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 3, 2013 8:23 PM

    This is collateral damage to Penn State. Corbett’s political gambit could cost Penn State a great coach and set the football program back further. It’s going to be real interesting WHEN O’Brien leaves. Either
    Philadelphia or Cleveland is getting a great coach.

  4. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 3, 2013 8:29 PM

    Question to PSU supporters, please.

    Is Corbett’s ploy to control the investigation of his role while AG worth PSU getting it’s reputation dragged through the mud once again?

    PSU has come forward and have stated that they still
    want the penalties and sanctions to remain in place. They are moving forward.

    Corbett gives the impression that he is trying to save his political viability for public office. Has PSU asked the Governor’s office to rescind the lawsuit?

  5. queenlivekillers says: Jan 3, 2013 9:06 PM

    At the risk of being overly cynical, O’Brien would not be the first former Patriots assistant to use rumors of a move to the NFL to leverage a raise/extension. The other was Charlie Weis.

  6. dhlions says: Jan 3, 2013 9:20 PM


    All good questions, but keep in mind that one of the key counter-points for the NCAA is that Corbett himself took far too long to draw conclusions on Sandusky in the first place. Now I’m not saying Corbett does or does not have anything to hide from, but deliberately putting this story back in the spotlight and backing the NCAA into a corner will certainly dig up any and all dirt on Corbett. So as much as there is to gain politically for Corbett, there are downside risks as well.

    I don’t like it, but if it creates change at the NCAA on a greater level and improves college football overall, then its selfish to say its a bad thing.

  7. cranespy says: Jan 3, 2013 9:30 PM

    Bill O stays…..the NFL will be there after he guides one of college football’s legendary programs out of the darkness and back to a BCS bowl in year 5 which will be the year that Robert Kraft brings Bill in as the heir apparent to Belecheck!

  8. boondocksaint7 says: Jan 3, 2013 9:33 PM

    Hope he stays. PSU needs him!

  9. tommy57 says: Jan 4, 2013 12:21 AM

    @ amos

    The core issue is the distribution of the funds from the $60M fine. PA government wants the money to be spent within PA, saying that focusing the funds will provide more benefit (albeit to fewer individuals); otherwise, a wider distribution results in less funds and less benefit to a larger group. PA is saying that if this fine was designed to ‘make a difference’ then it should be a focused and limited distribution.

    I understand those who believe PSU should just ‘shut up and take their punishment’ but honestly, NCAA ineptitude (IMHO) makes that very difficult. What possible role should the NCAA have in distribution of funds to victims of sexual abuse?

    I agree PSU should not be in charge of the distribution either, but there are government agencies and non-profit organizations that specialize in victim support. These organizations are better suited for this task than the NCAA.

    The whole of PSU is scarred for life as a result of the silence of several leaders. The university must never make that same mistake again, even if it means revisiting painful memories.

    I’m not sure of Governor Corbett’s motives, but he’s right on this issue.

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