Penn State rewarded coach Bill O’Brien for his amazing work in his first season leading the Nittany Lions. The university announced Thursday that he would receive a $1 million pay raise, upping his total compensation package to approximately $3.2 million.
The question now is how long will it keep O’Brien happy in Happy Valley?
Terms of the agreement dictate O’Brien would return to his $1.1 million base – down from the $1.9 million base he will receive in 2013 – after this season.
Interestingly, the contract also would hold O’Brien to a lesser buyout in the event that he leaves Penn State for a job as an NFL head coach.
It’s hardly a secret that NFL teams – specifically the Cleveland Browns, though the Philadelphia Eagles also reportedly had interest – had interest in O’Brien following the 2012 season. Ultimately, though, he decided to stay in school.
O’Brien accepted the Penn State position before he knew the severity of the sanctions the program would receive in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Though O’Brien has repeatedly said the steep penalties – a four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine and a limit of 65 scholarship players – would not have dissuaded him from taking the job.
Penn State players also received permission for up to one year to transfer to another program without having to sit out for a season.
The season started wretchedly for the Nittany Lions, who opened with losses to Ohio and Virginia. However, they bounced back to win eight of their last 10 games.
However, the effects of the NCAA’s heavy-handed penalties haven’t taken full effect. They will begin to do so in the coming years.
That leads to the (multi-)million-dollar question: How many times will O’Brien spurn advances from NFL teams before taking the leap even optimistic Penn State fans believe is inevitable?
The new contract makes it seem as though Penn State is thinking along the same lines by lowering O’Brien’s buyout for that specific scenario.
Few coaches could have guided the Nittany Lions through the tumultuous times of 2012. O’Brien managed the task in what was just his first head-coaching season.
Within the next few years, O’Brien will show whether Penn State is a destination or a stepping stone job for him.