Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien
One year and a surprising 8-4 record later, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien is getting a $1 million raise.
O'Brien has turned the frown in Happy Valley upside down and will be rewarded with a pay package of more than $3.2 million, according to an ESPN report.
His 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.
That is a nice salary, but it will not keep him from going to the NFL. The report indicated that this offseason O'Brien "spoke with [NFL] clubs, [but] no job was ever offered." If he spoke with them, he was interested in options other than Penn State.
No coach wants to be at a disadvantage when playing a sport. But the Nittany Lions will be fielding a team with no more than 65 players under scholarship starting next year and running through 2017. Most FBS teams have 85.
Penn State football will suffer from those scholarship restrictions in two years. With no postseason play for the next three years, O'Brien's bank account may be bigger, but the opportunity to impress NFL GMs will dwindle.
How long does O'Brien stay at Penn State?
The report also said that "O'Brien has switched agents from Joe Linta to Neil Cornrich" since he last spoke to NFL clubs in January. An agent change usually indicates that the client feels he or she isn't getting the best representation. A change after no job offers could signal O'Brien wanting a more aggressive agent.
O'Brien's new contract also has a very interesting clause. More from ESPN:
According to the contract, O'Brien would pay less of a buyout (only the base salary times years remaining on deal, but not including media and sponsorship dollars) if he were to resign to take an NFL head-coaching job than if he were to leave for other circumstances.
A school encouraging its bailing coach to pick the lesser of two evils is interesting. More interesting is that it is willing to reward him with a lower financial penalty if he chooses to go the NFL route.
O'Brien has a nice contract to keep him happy. The raise puts him at the elite coaching level.
But all signs still point out of Happy Valley next year.