Bill O’Brien has decided to stay at Penn State hours after word leaked that he had interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, a source close to the situation told Yahoo! Sports.
The decision to pull his name out of consideration ends a week of uncertainty as the first-year Nittany Lions coach was floated with a number of NFL openings and caused a measure of concern back in State College.
The contracts for O'Brien and his assistants are expected to be reworked and will include a pay raise, a source said.
Penn State went 8-4 this season in dealing with the shock of massive NCAA sanctions leveled against the program stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They included a four-year postseason ban, four years of significant scholarship reductions and other penalties that made the program's future uncertain.
Sources said the level of the penalties stunned O’Brien, who had arrived from the staff of the New England Patriots to succeed legendary coach Joe Paterno.
While O’Brien, 43, knew he would have to overcome the fallout of the Sandusky scandal, he never expected such heavy NCAA sanctions. Sources said his concern over being able to compete at a high level led him to consider NFL inquiries this week.
The Browns have also interviewed Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and are set to speak with Oregon coach Chip Kelly Friday in Arizona. O’Brien was not a shoo-in to get the job, or one with the Philadelphia Eagles, who also were reportedly considering him.
Keeping his name in the job market threatened some goodwill that O’Brien had built in rallying the Nittany Lion program over the past year. The eight teams Penn State defeated last season finished with a 46-54 record.
After O’Brien’s interest in the Browns broke Thursday night, a number of Penn State players expressed shock and disappointment on Twitter that reflected the general mood around the Penn State fan base. O'Brien had preached loyalty and togetherness earlier this season.
"Wow it’s a cold world out there," tweeted offensive tackle Donovan Smith. "I feel like I’m back at square one."
"Cold world, ain't nothin sunny," tweeted quarterback Steven Bench.
Before long, however, O’Brien called off the job search. He’ll remain at Penn State for at least one more season.
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