Last January, when Bill O'Brien accepted the head coaching gig at Penn State, he inherited a messier situation than anybody could have ever imagined. Now, after a successful calendar year at the helm—both on the field and on the recruiting trail—the school is rewarding him with a massive payday.
According to ESPN.com:
[O'Brien's] contract when he arrived in January 2012 called for a base salary of $950,000. That's going up to $1.9 million starting July 1, according to contract terms released Thursday by the school.
Counting compensation for radio and television work and a Nike contract, O'Brien's total deal this year would be worth more than $3.2 million.
The base salary would go back down to $1.1 million in 2014 before a raise to $1.6 million in 2015. The total value of O'Brien's contract spanning the 2013-2016 seasons is $12,789,413, or an average of $3.2 million per year.
The raise is certainly well deserved. After the release of the Freeh Report, the NCAA levied historic sanctions on the program, including a $60 million fine, a four-year ban from postseason play and, starting in 2014, a revocation of 20 scholarships per season.
It also allowed Penn State players to transfer without sitting out a season, which running back Silas Redd, the team's best offensive player, promptly did, aligning himself with Lane Kiffin and the Trojans at USC.
Even with the deck stacked against him, though, O'Brien brought a cavalier attitude to the program, igniting the offense with schemes redolent of his days in New England. Quarterback Matt McGloin set career highs across the board (and has used his tutelage to make an unlikely impression at the next level), while wide receiver Allen Robinson emerged as an All-Big Ten candidate.
O'Brien also took the unenviable position of recruiting with a four-year bowl ban and ran with it, landing 247Sports' 30th-best class despite giving out just 18 scholarships. The class was headlined by consensus 5-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg, perhaps the best passing prospect in the nation, and an ideal target for him in tight end Adam Breneman.
Only Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska brought better classes into the Big Ten.
Per ESPN, O'Brien's new terms ensure that he would pay less of a buyout if he were to leave for an NFL coaching position than for any other reason. That clause could be telling since O'Brien was such a hot name on the NFL coaching carousel last offseason.
Still, for now this is great news for Penn State—a program that certainly needs it—and its second-year head coach. Let's see what he has planned for an encore.