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Is Bill O’Brien considering leaving Penn State for the NFL? Only he knows

Bill O'Brien, Paul Jones, Steven Bench AP

This time of year is always littered with coaching rumor after coaching rumor. Some are based on facts that may end up being credible (Mack Brown resigning at Texas?) while others are nothing more than coming up with a list of popular or trendy names and throwing them against a wall to see what sticks.

For the second straight offseason Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is once again having his name thrown in to the mix for any number of possibilities that would require leaving State College, Pennsylvania for 2014. For a second straight year, O’Brien has been relatively mum on the subject to the point Penn State fans may start to get a little nervous.

As I have said before, O’Brien just feels like an NFL coach and I imagine one day we will be watching him coach on Sundays. When that happens is something I am not clear on, but I can see it happening someday. Though he has plenty fo college experience, O’Brien has said before coaching in the NFL is the top of the caching profession, and considering how much of a competitor O’Brien is I can see him working to one day get that opportunity as a head coach. He has been there as an assistant of course, and if he continues to build a winning program at Penn State in spite of once crippling sanctions, his profile will only continue to rise to those with bigger paychecks.

The latest buzz surrounding O’Brien and a possible return to the NFL was ignited by a report from’s Jason La Confora, suggesting O’Brien has drawn interest from the Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings. It would make sense O’Brien would be on the radar for either team. Both have young quarterbacks who could be a good project for O’Brien, who managed to somehow make Matt McGloin an NFL player. Imagine what he might be able to do with Christian Ponder or Case Keenum. That said, the report had some unstable reasoning such as more sanctions. In reality, Penn State had sanctions reduced by the NCAA, and there could be more reductions done at some point in the future.

With Penn State no longer in practices for any games, O’Brien’s availability has been reduced from the fall schedule. O’Brien has said before he is looking forward to continuing on at Penn State, but every coach would mutter that sentiment. His recent silence, as reported by veteran Penn State reporter David Jones of The Patriot News is rather intriguing.

“I’ve called and texted O’Brien for the past 24 hours asking him to put all the latest speculation to rest by coming out publicly and stating that he will return to coach Penn State next season,” Jones writes. “O’Brien is usually very good at getting back to me and he may at some point still. But up to this hour, he has not. Draw your own conclusions from that.”

This alone is not enough to suggest O’Brien is considering his options, but it certainly does not paint a pretty picture on him being a rock solid Penn State guy for now. Until he says anything on record, it is all just speculation and guessing for now, as it is with any coach at the college or pro level. O’Brien has not gone on record confirming his satisfaction being the head coach at Penn State the way Nick Saban had with Alabama, David Shaw has with Stanford or Gus Malzahn has with Auburn.

Allow me to go back to something I said earlier. If he keeps winning at Penn State, I can easily envision O’Brien one day coach in the NFL. But the situation has to be right for O’Brien. That situation is something only O’Brien and his family know for sure. Is Houston the right situation? Is Minnesota? What about Austin, Texas? Or is State College, Pennsylvania the right situation?

We do not know for sue, because O’Brien has not told us.

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28 Responses to “Is Bill O’Brien considering leaving Penn State for the NFL? Only he knows”
  1. manik56 says: Dec 16, 2013 11:00 PM

    I would wager Mr. Jones that OB has been more concerned about recruiting the past couple weeks than emailing a reporter.

  2. bigd88 says: Dec 16, 2013 11:03 PM

    No. Not this year or for the next few years.
    O’Brien now has a special needs son that is a severe obstacle for a professional to pack up and move cross-country every 3-4 years like earlier in his career.
    He will not leave just for any old average NFL Opening. He is staying in State College for the next few years with great job security and stability for his son’s medical situation and will only jump to the NFL for a franchise that offers similar stability – ie a well-run franchise that doesn’t can a coach every 3 years like New England, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore.

  3. drsteller says: Dec 17, 2013 12:06 AM

    Wow, proofread much? The number of typos in this article is astounding.

  4. ningenito78 says: Dec 17, 2013 12:09 AM

    ^^ Tool ^^

  5. ningenito78 says: Dec 17, 2013 12:13 AM

    Houston and Minnesota are 2 cities more than capable of helping his special needs son. I would say a hell of a lot more than State College, PA. So that reasoning is so silly it sounds like you’re in denial. If the Texans call and offer the money he’s gone. Perfect situation. Going to have either the top pick or close to it for a team not far removed from being a Super Bowl contender. The roster is nowhere near as bad as the other bottom feeding NFL teams. Several Pro Bowl caliber players and high draft picks. In a great city like Houston. Sorry Penn St. You couldn’t ask for a better situation to walk into the NFL under.

  6. ningenito78 says: Dec 17, 2013 12:15 AM

    Look at Andy Ried and the Chiefs. The Texans job is a very similar situation. A roster nowhere near as bad as the record shows. Just needs a new voice.

  7. wisconsinhillfolk says: Dec 17, 2013 12:26 AM

    The media is a wide open, diseased, festering pussy. You should be hunted like deer.

  8. dmvtransplant says: Dec 17, 2013 1:36 AM

    @ ningenito78

    If you believe the Texans were ever Super Bowl containers I know an African Prince that could use your credit card number. Beating the Bungals 2 yrs in a row doesn’t make you legit. Neither does getting run over by much better teams on the road in the post season.

    The truth is despite the turn around of McGloin into a starter for the Raiders (which is like slimmest kid at fat camp), some of those jobs sound like crap. NFL head coaches don’t have the same amount of time to develop a QB the way college coaches do. Just ask Andy Reid how well the Mike Vick project went?

    Before Penn State O’Brien had a chance at Jacksonville he went down there saw Blaine Gabbert practice and instead chose the team with a child sex scandal. He always does what is best for him especially considering he avoided the mistake that killed the career of a wildly success NFL coordinate in Butch Davis by not going to Cleveland where careers end.

    If he leaves I believe it would be a team with a real franchise QB (so not Dallas or Houston) and a shot to not suck for years. Look out Detroit. I’d laugh if he took the Texas job.

  9. boomgrounder says: Dec 17, 2013 2:03 AM

    O”Brien was never offered the Jaguars job. GM Dave Caldwell never considered offering the HC job to O’Brien. You got wrong information. The Jags interviewed the Falcons Special Teams Coach and Seahawks D-Cooridinator Gus Bradley. They never let Bradley leave Jax and hired him the day after the interview. They considered 49ers OC Greg Roman for an Interview but never got to him with his playoff schedule and the fact that GM Caldwell and Jags Owner Shad Khan were sold on Gus Bradley on the spot!

  10. dmvtransplant says: Dec 17, 2013 9:09 AM

    @ boomgrounder

    So I guess ESPN, the BTN and ABC sports were lying. Also turning down the Jags has been mentioned during Penn State games over the last 2 seasons. But I could be completely wrong it’s not like you can watch a rebroadcast of a game and hear the story again oh wait you can. BTW what position with the Jaguars do you hold?

    And for the record I never said he considered being a head coach I simply said he watch the QB situation down there and went to Penn State instead.

    Best of luck with who ever got the job and the bang up 4 win job their doing.

  11. tcwestdad says: Dec 17, 2013 9:18 AM

    Detroit will be looking for a new coach! O’Brien may be the guy to turn that festering crap hole into a real NFL team. Most talented team to not make the playoffs,

  12. kastout11 says: Dec 17, 2013 10:42 AM

    I hope he stays at PSU at least one more year. I have nothing to go by, just my opinion. He took on a job at PSU, and I think he wants to get them through the sanctions, then if they are successful, his stock will go through the roof. He will not go to Texas, his buyout for a college team is $13 million. He will coach on Sunday’s, it is only a matter of time. I think he will wait until the right opportunity, then jump. I don’t think he will jump at the 1st NFL job he is offered. Being a PSU fan, I hope he stays for a long time, but I think he is gone, if not this offseason, then very soon.

  13. mogogo1 says: Dec 17, 2013 10:42 AM

    “Also turning down the Jags has been mentioned during Penn State games over the last 2 seasons.”

    Lots of things get mentioned that aren’t correct. You could legitimately say he turned down the interview. But even the Jags don’t hire people without interviewing them first, so he absolutely didn’t turn down the job.

  14. newlydead says: Dec 17, 2013 11:43 AM

    Penn State fan here and while I think O’Brien is the perfect guy for Penn State (was the perfect hire) he has work to do before being considered a great head coach. Yes he is great with QBs and play calling (most of the time) but he still has a way to go with game management (time out calls, clock management, substitutions, when to pressure, when to let off the gas, things that head coaches are responsible for)

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the NFL really offers the on the job training that college does for such things. If he does take an NFL position (if he does i would wish him the best of luck) i hope he surrounds himself with NFL experienced assistants.

  15. baldeagle22 says: Dec 17, 2013 11:56 AM

    Lots of conjecture above about O’Brien and the potential interest level with the available jobs in the NFL… @ningenito, with his special needs son, Geisinger Medical offers an ideal care situation. I have no idea about Houston but it appears that you have no idea about State College.

    What I choose to believe in is that Bill O’Brien looked in the eyes of Christian Hackenberg (and other recruits/players) and told him that he was going to be the head coach at PSU for as long as it takes to rebuild the program. He is loyal to a fault, and I can’t see him turning his back on players who didn’t turn their back on him. I’ve read numerous times that O’Brien is looking forward to the days where PSU re-enters postseason play.

    That said, if New England called, uh oh…

  16. youcantmakemepickausername says: Dec 17, 2013 11:56 AM

    That one line in the David Jones article you linked to cracks me up. “I was texting and calling O’Brien for 24 hours”. Sounds kind of stalker-ish. “OMG Bill, calllllll meeeeeee puh-lease!!!”.

    But seriously, as i said in another post, he’s gonna leave eventually and when he does, I’ll wish him the best and thank him for helping guide the program and university through all that crap.

    If he DOES leave this offseason, however, one thing that would have me a little PO’d is that two assistants were just given “leave or be fired” ultimatums (if the stories coming out are correct). One of those assistants was LB coach Ron Vanderlinden.

    So, if O’Brien forced out the guy responsible for developing, among others, Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman, and Paul Pozlusny, only to end up leaving himself, that would rub me the wrong way a bit.

  17. Bo Darville says: Dec 17, 2013 12:08 PM

    My hunch is that O’Brien’s agent wants somebody at Penn State to think he might be leaving.

  18. eidolon21 says: Dec 17, 2013 12:19 PM

    david jones is a Ohio State grad who continuously writes negative PSU stories This is negative recruiting and this NBC Blog needs to consider the source before posting. Hey guys I heard Urban M just accepted the TEXAS job please headline that JT

  19. dutchman1350 says: Dec 17, 2013 1:12 PM

    O’B is holding out until Belichik retires, where it would be a perfect it.

  20. realfootballfan says: Dec 17, 2013 1:29 PM

    His buyout is $13 million, so good luck with all that. He’s stuck for the time being.

  21. youcantmakemepickausername says: Dec 17, 2013 1:43 PM

    realfootballfan says:
    Dec 17, 2013 1:29 PM
    His buyout is $13 million, so good luck with all that. He’s stuck for the time being.
    I could be wrong but my understanding is that the buyout is $13 million if he goes to another college team, and that it’s “only” 7 million if he goes to NFL.

  22. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 17, 2013 1:58 PM

    dmvtransplant says: Dec 17, 2013 1:36 AM

    @ ningenito78

    If you believe the Texans were ever Super Bowl containers I know an African Prince that could use your credit card number. Beating the Bungals 2 yrs in a row doesn’t make you legit. Neither does getting run over by much better teams on the road in the post season.

    The Texans beat the Broncos on the road last year and crushed the eventual SB champs by 30….

    They got hot way too early last year, got cocky and then fell apart late.

    They were within 1 score of Baltimore on the road in the 2011 playoffs with a 3rd string QB and huge chunk of starters on IR…

    The Texans were definitely contenders… their window is almost closed now and they didn’t take advantage of it but to say they weren’t contenders, when 9 or 10 win teams winning the SB is routine lately, that’s just stupid…

  23. realfootballfan says: Dec 17, 2013 3:34 PM


    I don’t think it’s exclusive to jumping to another college job. It’s usually never brought up because NFL teams would more easily buy out a contract than any university would. In this case, the buyout would have to give anyone pause.

  24. bigbuckeye76 says: Dec 17, 2013 4:26 PM

    I hope this is untrue, I think he is a good coach and we need more like him in the B1G.

  25. boomgrounder says: Dec 17, 2013 11:15 PM

    @dmv if you believe everything ESPN and the national media tells you about the Jaguars your in trouble! I just took my information from the Jags GM. He was asked the question at the press conference introducing Bradley about who all did you interview and consider for the job and that’s the answer he gave. It was live on local tv and radio and reported in the local news, newspaper and teams website. If you rely on the National Media they will tell you the Jags are moving to LA or wait now London! LOL I suppose you believe that too!

  26. boomgrounder says: Dec 17, 2013 11:19 PM

    @dmv I hope O’Brien stays PSU’s HC he seems to be doing a good job. Sorry we Jags fans tend to have a chip on our shoulder! Good Luck!

  27. MyTeamsAllStink says: Dec 19, 2013 11:31 AM

    Rhythmic slappings in the shower

  28. ryounglewis says: Dec 28, 2013 10:41 PM

    My husband and I volunteer many hours in our community for our local kids not because we get 5 million dollars a year, just because it’s about the kids. If O’Brien isn’t there for the kids then get out. Let’s get a coach that wants to take our kids back to a bowl game!!

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