Following a stunning 2012 season that saw the Penn State Nittany Lions post an 8-4 record, head coach Bill O'Brien was linked to seemingly every open coaching job, particularly in the NFL.
As time stood still in Happy Valley, O'Brien contemplated his options and may or may not have interviewed with the Browns and/or Eagles. The details were a bit muddled. The one thing that was obvious was the interest in Penn State's head coach.
I would love to see Bill O'Brien of Penn State become the new head coach at the Pittsburgh Steelers..— jim boscaino iii (@jimsitalian) December 2, 2013
In the end, O'Brien restructured his deal with Penn State, gaining a substantial, well-deserved raise in the process.
While 2013 saw a slight decline in wins, the coaching job done by O'Brien and his staff may have been even more impressive considering the depth issues and youth covering this roster. At last count, Penn State had played 13 true freshmen on the year, many of whom saw extensive playing time.
Inevitably, O'Brien's name has already started coming up, and very few football seasons have even come to a close at either the NFL or college levels.
If I were an AD of a major BCS school that was looking for new head coach, I'd back a truck load of money to Bill O'Brien's house.— Brian Johannes (@bajohans) November 30, 2013
Unfortunately for those teams in need, Penn State's coach is not to be had. At least not this year.
If Bill O'Brien had an urgent need to coach in the NFL, he could have quenched that thirst a year ago. His legendary senior class was moving on, his stock was through the roof and he was staring down the barrel at sanctions on the verge of strangling his program.
But he didn't leave.
Any AD looking to hire a new football coach has to look at Bill O'Brien & Charlie Strong with the new extension for Sumlin.— Ed Livingston (@ed_livingston) November 30, 2013
A year later, his stock is still high, but the chances of him leaving are lower than ever.
O'Brien is in the final stages of assembling his second-straight top-30 recruiting class, and he has already identified his quarterback of the future. In Christian Hackenberg, O'Brien has a project with all the tools to excel, and O'Brien has commented numerous times about how fun it is to coach him.
He has assembled a strong coaching staff that he'll be adding to once again with the departures of Ron Vanderlinden and Charlie Fisher. This time, when he makes phone calls to potential assistant coaches, Penn State won't have the stigma that it had when he took over.
Houston sports radio all aboard the "Bill O'Brien" train. They basically have him already coaching the 2014 Texans.— PatriotsXLVIII (@PatriotsXLVIII) November 28, 2013
By all accounts, the head coach and his family love the State College area, and O'Brien has commented about being able to drive to his parents' home in Massachusetts or to vacation in Cape Cod. On ESPN's Training Days, O'Brien asked rhetorically "Do you know it's five hundred miles exactly from my door here (vacationing in Cape Cod) to my door in State College. Is that unbelievable? On the dot."
How much longer will O'Brien be at Penn State?
As for money being a motive, O'Brien received a $1 million raise last year at this time, and he's a modest guy. You never know public figures like you think you do, but O'Brien doesn't strike anyone as the kind of character to go back on his word simply for money.
So what would be a motive for Bill O'Brien to leave Penn State? A new challenge? The Patriots job? The Texas Longhorns?
"BOB" has a challenge in front of him where he is comfortable and in control. He is operating under very little pressure due to the sanctions, and he has things headed in the right direction when everyone said it couldn't be done.
From the outside looking in, Penn State's head coach is in the beginning stages of a very long and successful tenure as the Nittany Lions head coach.
A time may come when O'Brien will move on to greener (New England) pastures, but that time is not now. There is plenty of green grass in front of him, right where he is.