Penn State Football: Why Bill O'Brien Was Right to Say No to the NFL

John McGonigalCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2013

Attention, Penn State fans, you are all allowed to breathe easy.

According to multiple reports (via Jason La Canfora), Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien will return to State College for at least 2013 after reportedly interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns.

This week has been trying for Penn State fans, students and alumni considering O'Brien's name had been floating around the NFL coaching carousel.

Hailing from Bill Belichick's coaching tree, O'Brien implemented a wildly popular and successful pro-style, high-octane offensive scheme and transformed previously mediocre quarterback Matthew McGloin into a 3,000-yard passer.

While O'Brien's hiring was questioned by many at first, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator won over the Lions faithful and got them to "Billieve."

After O'Brien was hired, he and the rest of Happy Valley were stunned with the NCAA's "unprecedented" sanctions—whether or not they were warranted (see: State of Pennsylvania vs. NCAA).

As many know already, the sanctions included (but weren't limited to): a four-year postseason bowl ban, loss of scholarships and a $60 million fine. So with these sanctions, and with his professional interest, why didn't O'Brien jump ship to the NFL?

First of all, let's look at the teams that were reportedly looking at his services: the Browns and Eagles. While it's known that O'Brien interviewed with these two franchises, it is not known if he was offered the job at all, so let's keep that in mind.

If he was offered the job in Cleveland, it would be understandable why he didn't accept. Not only have the Browns been awful recently, but the team has seen five coaches come in and out since 2004, so job stability and security is reflective of the team's woes.

In Philadelphia's case, Jeff Skversky reported O'Brien was secretly interviewed on Thursday while the coach was on vacation in Massachusetts. While the Eagles are an attractive coaching destination, it seems like they have gone all-in on Oregon's Chip Kelly.

However, maybe his emotions toward Penn State proved to be the deciding factor.

Whether it was countless "Bill O'Brien" chants at Beaver Stadium or a plethora of love on Twitter, the coach has done what no one thought could be done at Penn State.

Not only is he a beloved figure on campus after just one season, but O'Brien was right and smart to say no while still gauging NFL interest. First of all, it looks like his ploy to talk to the NFL will result in some more moolah.

According to the Harrisburg-Patriot News' David Jones, "high-level PSU sources" told him that donor Terry Pegula donated a $1.3 million gift that will be added to O'Brien's salary in the coming year. Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, is the financier to the new Penn State hockey arena.

With this report, O'Brien is expected to make more money, but a key reason was the coach's attitude toward the program, current players and recruits.

In the exclusive interview Jones had with O'Brien, the Lions head man said, "I'm not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that's what I am going to do. I'm not gonna cut and run after one year, that's for sure."

In that statement, O'Brien made a firm stand for his current players but also his incoming recruits. Could you imagine what would happen to Penn State recruiting wise if O'Brien booked it to the NFL?

With him returning, the commitment of Christian Hackenberg, Adam Breneman and others seems to remain intact. Also, this NFL coaching-carousel fiasco should help with recruiting in the future.

How many guys in the college football world can say to an offensive recruit, "Hey, come play for an NFL-caliber coach who received NFL interviews due in large part to a successful NFL pro-style offense."

O'Brien probably could have bolted for an NFL job considering how hot of a commodity he was. But when you take the sanctions out of the equation, it makes sense for O'Brien to come back.

Phenomenal facilities, a fanbase that loves him, coaching stability, top-tier recruits...what more could you want in the present moment? Sure, the NCAA sanctions will still loom over Penn State for the next three years and beyond.

However, by saying "no" to the NFL this offseason, O'Brien earned himself more money than he made last year, potentially set himself up for better recruiting and made people remember just how important he is to the Penn State program.

Well done, O'Brien.