Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bill O'Brien dodges questions about future at Penn State

After Saturday's 45-22 win against Indiana, someone flat out asked the 43-year-old: Are you going to be Penn State's coach next year?

Bill O'Brien dodges questions about future at Penn State

"I´m the head football coach at Penn State," Bill O´Brien said, sternly. "I love coaching here and I can´t wait to get back to work on Monday and get ready for Wisconsin." (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
"I'm the head football coach at Penn State," Bill O'Brien said, sternly. "I love coaching here and I can't wait to get back to work on Monday and get ready for Wisconsin." (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Ever since the NCAA sanctions were announced in July, reporters and fans have dangled around scenarios where coach Bill O'Brien will abort his contract at Penn State.

After Saturday's 45-22 win against Indiana, someone flat out asked the 43-year-old: Are you going to be Penn State's coach next year?

Surely that was an opportunity for O'Brien to pledge his commitment to Nittnay nation. Surely that was the time for him to say despite the national accolades he's receiving, despite the rumors that are floating around, he wants to be at Penn State for the long haul.

Instead? O'Brien was coy, vague and perhaps a bit defensive.

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"There's no story there," the coach said, adding he thought the media planted the story last week by mentioning NFL openings. "I'm focused on one game at a time. I'm focused on this football team."

Indeed, the sentiment is understood. O'Brien has preached a "one game at a time" approach all season. But the reporter asked a follow up question. And then O'Brien started to appear frustrated. 

"We gave legs to a story that isn't even there just beause someone wrote an article," O'Brien said. "For me, it's Wisconsin and this football team and this senior class. That's where  ithink that question should be directed - Indiana, the senior class, getting ready for Wisconsin."

One last time to pledge his commitment?

"I'm the head football coach at Penn State," O'Brien said, sternly. "I love coaching here and I can't wait to get back to work on Monday and get ready for Wisconsin."

O'Brien's current base salary is $950,000 a year, plus $1 million a year for public appearances and $350,000 from a deal with Nike. When O'Brien was hired in January, he signed to a five year deal. After the NCAA sanctions, O'Brien opted to extend his contract four more years -- the amount of years Penn State is banned from the postseason.

A buyout would be expensive. Are any other college or professional teams willing to make that commitment? Combined with the upcoming free agency for Penn State players who can still transfer with no penalties, this is shaping up to be a pretty eventful offseason.

-Emily Kaplan

About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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