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Penn State’s Bill O’Brien Set to Return to the NFL

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Bill O’Brien exceeded the greatest of expectations in his first season as head coach at Penn State and is now wanted by a couple of NFL teams.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns are the two teams with the most interest in hiring O’Brien away from Happy Valley, according to CBS Sports insider Jason LaConfora.

Right after Thanksgiving I wrote that O’Brien will be wanted by the NFL only to be scoffed at my readers suggesting my claim was absurd and borderline crazy. However that notion now appears to be gaining a lot of momentum.

Taking over the scandal-laden program in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked the college football world put O’Brien behind the proverbial eight ball before he even coached his first game.

However, after dropping the first two games of the season, the Nittany Lions reeled off wins in eight of the next 10 games, with the losses coming vs. an undefeated Ohio State team and Nebraska who won the legends division in the Big Ten.

Leaving for the NFL after having his players commit to the program after the sanctions were imposed would certainly be hypocritical after he jumps after one season, but then again college coaches have been known to be hypocritical on more than one occasion.

Having said that he brought stability and leadership to a program that desperately needed it and his loss would be utterly devastating to a team that is likely to be looking for their second coach in a year after having one for the previous 45 years.

O’Brien has a hefty buyout and some conflicting reports have emerged today with one Fox Sports report saying the buyout is $18.2 million, while ESPN Business Analyst Darren Rovell says that figure is $9.2 million.

https://twitter.com/darrenrovell/status/286675536493821953

In any event the buyout is not going to stop this and the interest from the NFL is apparent and it sounds as if the feeling from O’Brien is mutual.

Between Cleveland and Philadelphia the Eagles job is the one that I would want the most and would cause a tidal wave of emotion through the state of Pennsylvania if O’Brien is named the coach in the next few days.

Would fans be able to support the man that brought their college team from the dead only to leave them so quick to go to their NFL team? It is certainly quite the conundrum fans of both may find themselves in and it may happen as soon as this weekend.

I can’t fault O’Brien entirely for taking an NFL job because he entered into a toxic situation that no one else wanted and he did a great job. Of course it reeks of a lack of commitment and I’m positive the Penn State players left on the roster and the incoming recruits he pledged loyalty to be feeling abandoned at the moment.

This is just the state of college athletics where many coaches jump from one job to the next and chase the money, and that isn’t going to end anytime soon.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on Sportstownchicago.com airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.