There's an item being circulated that claims Jason La Canfora is reporting Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is probably going to leave for the NFL, $9 million buyout and all. This follows on other reports that the former Patriots assistant is interested in heading back to the pros and that an Eagles offer is all it would take.
To me, it appears more that La Canfora is expressing his opinion on O'Brien, rather than reporting. As has been pointed out, if he was reporting this, he would've tweeted it, not dropped it off via Cleveland radio. Here is what La Canfora said:
I believe if he's pursued the way I think he'll be pursued, I believe his odds are very good. People can talk about the buyout and all these things, but there's a lot of legal machinations going on behind the scenes, and there's a way to do a settlement on the side that gets around that buyout. I don't think Penn State wants another lawsuit on its hands in the climate that it's in right now.
I think they probably see a bigger picture here, with some of the things they promised Bill O'Brien and can't deliver on. At some point, they may, they're probably gonna lose Bill O'Brien. And is it better just to get it over with now than later?
This is someone who was brought in under the auspices of, "This is a legal investigation. This is not a criminal investigation. You're not gonna have to re-recruit your players. You're not gonna have sanctions." And what happened? All those things came to pass.
I'm just not sure how forward-thinking of a group Penn State is. I tend to think that the lightbulbs might turn on there at Happy Valley a little too late.
It's worth noting that he received an automatic Penn State contract extension post-sanctions.
Common sense holds that O'Brien should want to leave Penn State, especially given his NFL background.
He led the Nittany Lions to a far better season than anybody thought possible, given the NCAA's harsh punishment, setting up an irrational glint of optimism for the future. If he were to stick with PSU until the effects of sanctions fully wore off, he'd likely have to endure eight years of losing just to have a realistic chance to win again. If he went to the NFL, he could compete without stigma or unique obstacles from Day 1. Even if he coached the Browns, technically!
If we came up with a pros vs. cons list, the pros would side with the pros. Like, every factor that is a tangible thing would dictate scrambling out of State College at maximum speed.
But some coaches aren't wired like the others. Chris Petersen is one. O'Brien might be another.
Far too often, NFL people assume college coaches should seek to ramp up the difficulty and run with the big dogs, which is a wrecked and simple perception of how challenging college coaching is. But in this case, O'Brien's only real reason to stick with Penn State is that he repeatedly said he would:
Replacing a legend, I've heard it a lot in the past few days. I'm not here to be Joe Paterno. There's only one Joe Paterno. What I'm going to try to do is be Bill O'Brien and we're going to do the best we can to continue the success that he's had here for many, many years.
He said that, then recruited players to Penn State, then awarded the ones who stayed with names on the backs of their jerseys for the first time in program history. That was before the NCAA came crashing down on O'Brien and other innocents.
"I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State [in 2013]," he told Atlanta's 790 AM, after sanctions came down.
If Chip Kelly leaves, Oregon fans will wish him well, thank him for his service and await further touchdowns. If any other college coach turned to the NFL, there would be griping. But if the man who successfully (for one season) replaced Joe Paterno heads right back to the NFL, leaving an even bigger mess for somebody to clean up?
We're dealing with a special circumstance here. Far be it from me or you to declare, "We're about to find out what kind of man Bill O'Brien is," because that has nothing to do with anything going on here. The situation he inherited at Penn State was even worse than what he was told he would inherit, he has no ties to Happy Valley beyond his one year as football coach and he has an entire coaching career to think about.
Let's just blame the NCAA. Cool?
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