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Penn State Football, Bill O’Brien and the NFL: Just the Facts

by on December 30, 2013 12:15 AM

We hold these 25 coaching search truths to be self-evident:

1. Bill O’Brien is still employed as the head football coach by The Pennsylvania State University.

2. O’Brien, his agent Neil Cornrich, Penn State and any and all NFL teams have not released any official statements about O’Brien’s employment status.

3. According to his revised contract, O’Brien is scheduled to receive a payment of $836,065 from Penn State on Dec. 31.

4. The Houston Texans do not have a head football coach.

5. Neither do the Cleveland Browns.

6. Houston has the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

7. Lovie Smith and Wade Phillips have interviewed for the Texans’ job. Numerous media reports say that O’Brien has as well, although he has not confirmed that. Ken Whisenhunt is scheduled to interview on Monday.

8. After the 2012 NFL season the Cleveland Browns interviewed O’Brien, Whisenhunt, Chip Kelly and Rob Chudzinski, the last of whom they hired and have now fired.

9. The NFL had eight head coaching vacancies after the 2012 season and all were filled by Jan. 17, 2013. Two of the hires came from the college ranks -- Kelly (Philadelphia) and Doug Marrone (Buffalo), both of whom are friends of O’Brien’s. Buffalo finished 6-10 in 2013; Philadelphia finished 10-6 and qualified for the playoffs.

10. NFL teams that are now considering firing their head coaches are, according to various reports: Detroit, Minnesota, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Washington. At 67, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants, which finished 7-9, is the oldest head coach in the NFL. He refused to comment on his future on Sunday.

11. O’Brien has spoken by telephone in the past two days with the two leaders of Penn State’s Class of 2013, quarterback Christian Hackenberg and tight end Adam Brenneman.

12. Junior wide receiver Allen Robinson has until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft.

13. Penn State has not filled two assistant coaching positions, vacant since Dec. 1, 2013, or the director of player personnel slot, vacated on Dec. 20.

14. Penn State begins spring semester classes on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

15. On Dec. 18, Penn State announced it had “received a national letter of intent from Tarow Barney (Bainbridge, Ga.), a defensive tackle who played the last two seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He plans to enroll in the University in January and will be eligible to play for Coach Bill O’Brien’s squad during the 2014 season.”

16. The following high school football players have announced their intent to enroll midyear at Penn State, beginning classes on Jan. 13, as verified by Ryan Snyder of quarterback Michael O’Connor, wide receiver De’Andre Thompkins, defensive tackle Antoine White and offensive tackle Chasz Wright.

17. The aforementioned five students (Nos. 15 and 16) can enroll in Penn State but are not bound to their decision to play football at PSU until they sign a national letter of intent, like all recruits, on Feb. 5, 2014. Incoming freshmen have until April 1, 2014 to sign a binding national letter of intent.

18. Those five players may, however, sign a financial aid agreement prior to Feb. 5, according to a new NCAA rule (NCAA Division I Bylaws 13.9.2 and established and immediately put into effect this past fall. It states: “a prospective student-athlete who intends to graduate from high school midyear and enroll at a member institution midyear during the same academic year (e.g., spring semester) may sign an institutional financial aid agreement on or after August 1 of his or her senior year…”

19. Mike Munchak, head coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, just finished the third year of a four-year contract that pays him between $2.75 and $3 million annually. He is 22-26 (.458) as an NFL head coach, with a 7-9 record this season, preceded by marks of 6-10 and 9-7. The Titans won their last two games of 2013, but lost five of the six games before that. In three seasons, Tennessee is 2-20 vs. teams with winning records. Munchak, 53, was a second-team All-America guard for Penn State in 1981. He played 12 years with the Titans’ franchise and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After his playing days he was an assistant coach with the franchise for 17 years.

20. Greg Schiano, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had a 4-12 record in 2013 – losing his first eight games and four of the last five. Tampa Bay was 7-9 in 2012, for an overall NFL record of 11-21 (.343). Schiano, 47, just finished the second year of a five-year, $15 million contract. As head coach at Rutgers from 2001-2011, he had a 68-67 overall record (.496) and was 28-48 in conference play (.368). In 2011, Rutgers was 9-4 and 4-3, finishing in a tie for fourth in the conference. In 2010, Rutgers was 4-8 and 1-6. Schiano was an assistant coach from 1990-95 at Penn State, coaching defensive backs in the final five seasons. He also coached with the Chicago Bears in the NFL and the University of Miami. Schiano was a three-year starter at linebacker at Bucknell.

21. Combined, Munchak and Schiano are 101-114 as head coaches.

22. On Jan. 6, 2012, O’Brien signed his initial contract with Penn State and he was introduced to the press the next day. The contract read: “TERM. The Coach’s employment hereunder shall be for a term beginning on January 6, 2012, and shall continue through January 6, 2017 or until any post-season game(s) is over, unless terminated earlier pursuant to the terms and provisions hereof.”

23. On Jan. 7, 2013, O’Brien met with the press and said he intended to stay at Penn State. He renegotiated his contract in the following months -- earning a one-time bonus of $935,279, a monthly raise for fiscal year 2013-2014 of $77,940 and a reduction in the cost to buy out his contract if he went the NFL after the 2013 season from approximately $19 million to about $6.5 million. The term of the contract stayed the same.

24. On Nov. 10, 2011, Rod Erickson signed an employment agreement to become Penn State’s president “for a term ending June 30, 2014, or earlier if parties mutually consent…”

25. On Nov. 17, 2011, Dave Joyner signed a memorandum of understanding to be “Acting Athletic Director” at Penn State, noting that “the term of the employment agreement is indefinite and will terminate with thirty (30) days’ notice.” On Jan. 21, 2013, Erickson lifted the acting/interim tag from Joyner’s job title. A Penn State press release said Joyner will serve “through the remainder of Erickson’s term of office, at which time a national search will be conducted.”

Related Stories:

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Penn State Football: Houston Offers Bill O'Brien Stability, Cash... and Maybe a No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

Penn State Football: O'Brien, Texans Working On Deal Reports Say

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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Penn State Football: Reports And Updates On Bill O'Brien's Possible NFL Future
December 29, 2013 3:20 PM
by Ben Jones
Penn State Football: Reports And Updates On Bill O'Brien's Possible NFL Future
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