Penn State Football: Would Fans Have Understood If Bill O'Brien Went to the NFL?

John McGonigal@@jmcgonigal9Correspondent IIJanuary 6, 2013

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks off the field after defeating the Navy Midshipmen 34-7 at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Considering the success he had this year, it was expected that Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien would receive NFL inquiries.

It was a no-brainer.

After effectively implementing a high-octane, pro-style scoring machine to a program not known for offense, O'Brien took over a nasty situation at Penn State and handled with class on and off the field.

Whether it was retaining a multitude of players after the sanctions were announced or bringing in top recruiting talent, the head man was one of the greatest stories in college football this year, and rightfully so.

Given what he was able to accomplish, would Penn State fans be able to forgive O'Brien if he bolted for the NFL?

Someone from the outside might be one to say, "Yes, he gave everything he could, the situation is toxic and he should move on to the NFL."

However, I don't think it would be so easy for a die-hard Nittany Lion fan.

The biggest reason is the fact that O'Brien and his agent made it clear he was coming back to Happy Valley in 2013 following the season.

While he definitely deserves NFL attention, Lions fans were probably caught off guard when it was reported he was interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns.

Even though all is well after O'Brien confirmed himself that he's not a "one-and-done guy," there would have been serious uproar if he left State College after just one year at the helm.

In that confirmation, it was said there were internal issues in the athletic department that will be addressed with "structural and personnel changes."

After the shambles the football program was in before O'Brien was hired, virtually everyone wrote off the Lions.

Not only did people say the Lions would suffer during their four-year bowl ban, but also for years after that.

Year number one? An 8-4 record, winning eight of the last 10 games and earning the Big Ten Coach of the Year honor. 

So not only did O'Brien succeed, but he won over a passionate and old-fashioned fanbase with honesty and lighting up the scoreboard.

With that being said, what could be thought of O'Brien if he left the program–feeling better than most expected– for a cutthroat job in the NFL?

Let's put it this way: he wouldn't be the most liked guy in the Centre County region.

Regardless of what happened last year, O'Brien would never have been forgiven if he left Penn State while the program is still fragile, in my opinion.