That fact that rumors are spreading about Bill O’Brien being offered jobs by NFL teams shouldn’t be very surprising.
He has an NFL coaching pedigree and has proven success as an assistant under Bill Belichick, and now O'Brien is showing what he can do as a head coach.
What is surprising, though, is how soon these rumors are spreading.
I mean, the guy hasn’t even finished his first season as a head coach, and he's considered one of the top prospects for new head coaching jobs in the pros.
So let’s slow down a bit as we let the final bits of dust settle from everything that Penn State has gone through over the past year.
The reality is that O’Brien won’t be coaching in the NFL next year, and here is why.
Every Saturday in the fall, millions of people tune in to watch their alma maters or favorite schools play football.
There truly is nothing like college football—the collection of students all grouped together on one team for one goal with no salary.
As O’Brien has experienced, the NFL is a different game completely.
There are no college campuses or student bodies supporting; it’s a full-time job.
So far this season, it has seemed as though O’Brien has embraced the role of promoting students to come out and support, and he clearly has gained their respect.
The NFL is the big show though, and from Sunday afternoon through Monday night, it's the highest level of competition.
But there is just nothing like college football.
The kids. These are teenagers and young men on his football team, and O'Brien has learned fast about the deep impacts that he can have on their lives.
It has been amazing what O’Brien has done this season with Penn State, and more specifically Matt McGloin.
He took a football team marred with the loss of key players through graduation and transfers mixed with sanctions and bowl bans, and he has held them together and won six games.
But before we give him all the credit, don’t forget that none of these players were brought in by O’Brien.
There’s no doubt that what O’Brien has done in his first season as a head coach has been special, but his performance this year hasn’t been perfect or complete.
Some of the coaching mistakes O’Brien has made during games and during this season may have been easier to hide away when playing teams such as Temple or Navy, but NFL teams don’t make mistakes, and when they do people get fired.
It can be understandable that O’Brien may have aspirations to coach in the NFL, but he needs to gain experience being a head coach first.
The next three years for Penn State may not amount to any bowl appearances, but the expected arrival of top quarterback recruit Christian Hackenberg has all of Nittany Nation energized.
If O’Brien is thinking about going to the NFL at all, he must be thinking about the future. Right now, the current future of the program is Hackenberg.
This kid has all the tools to be a sensational player, and O’Brien obviously sees that.
With his background as a quarterbacks coach, the arrival of Hackenberg has to excite O’Brien almost as much as Penn State fans.
With one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation coming to Happy Valley, how can a the quarterback guru that turned former walk-on Matt McGloin into the Big Ten’s top passer not want to stay and coach Hackenberg?
O’Brien knows the future is bright in Happy Valley with Hackenberg, and with the fast moving and often not guaranteed position of a head coach in the NFL, it will be tough to leave something that could turn out so well.
As you may have just seen in the previous slide, in the NFL there are no guarantees. If you don’t succeed you get fired and the next coach in line steps up.
It’s a tough business and not for everyone.
The situation O’Brien walked into at Penn State may not have been ideal, but it is in no way as unforgiving as the NFL.
O’Brien will not be fired if he struggles next year, and Penn State clearly plans to stand behind its new coach.
The future of O’Brien is guaranteed in Happy Valley—as long as that is the future he wants.
Even though Penn State hasn’t won a national title since 1986, the Nittany Lions still have one of the most loyal followings in all of college football.
From alumni rolling their RVs into State College on a Thursday evening before a big game to students camping out in “Nittanyville,” Penn State’s fanbase is one of the best in the nation.
That being said, the NFL has a solid following too. Stadiums are generally packed on Sundays for most teams, but far more fans can be packed into Beaver Stadium than any professional stadium.
From firsthand experience in going to both college and professional games, it just isn’t the same.
That certain excitement you get from walking around a college campus before a big game doesn’t exist in the NFL.
In Happy Valley, the excitement is tangible when a big game is set for Saturday, and the Nittany Nation rarely disappoints.
From what O’Brien has done with this program so far, he has gotten this massive fanbase behind him.
With more and more Penn State fans supporting O’Brien every week, how can he not want to stay?