Bill O'Brien will remain Penn State's coach next season, he said Thursday after turning away several NFL teams that were interested in talking to him for their coaching vacancies.
Four NFL teams were interested in O'Brien, and he interviewed with the
Cleveland Browns this week, sources confirmed to ESPN.
O'Brien previously had said he would stay at Penn State after revitalizing the program in one year's time, following the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and the death of Joe Paterno, but sources had told ESPN that both the Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles had him on their short list of candidates.
"I'm not a one-and-done guy," O'Brien told pennlive.com on Thursday night. "I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that's what I am going to do. I'm not gonna cut and run after one year. That's for sure."
O'Brien, the former Patriots offensive coordinator, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in his first season at Penn State. The Nittany Lions were 8-4 overall, 6-2 in Big Ten play.
"The heartstrings were too strong from last year for him to make any moves," said O'Brien's agent, Joe Linta. "He said, 'I asked the kids to make a commitment and they did, and I can't leave them.' "
Sources told ESPN last week that the NFL teams that have gauged his interest have been informed by a third-party representative that when O'Brien accepted the task of being Paterno's successor, he was told by school officials that the Sandusky scandal was a criminal matter, not an NCAA concern.
That proved to be bad information, as Penn State was dealt a four-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions as part of unprecedented sanctions handed down by the NCAA.
The sources emphasized O'Brien would not leave Penn State for just any NFL job. He bypassed an opportunity to interview for the Jacksonville Jaguars' opening last January.
The Browns also interviewed Syracuse coach Doug Marrone on Thursday, the Plain Dealer reported. ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen earlier reported that Marrone would be interviewed Thursday.
On Friday, the Browns will talk to Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who also has an interview scheduled with the Buffalo Bills, a day after the Ducks defeated Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, according to the Plain Dealer. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are conducting the interviews.
Former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt interviewed with the Browns on Wednesday in Arizona, league sources told ESPN. Whisenhunt, fired Monday by the Cardinals, also has interviewed with the Bills.
Haslam and Banner also interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton on Tuesday in Arizona.
Kelly has been courted by NFL teams in the past and came close to taking Tampa Bay's job last year. He has been deflecting questions about his future all week and did so again on Wednesday when asked if he expected to be contacted by NFL teams in the days ahead.
If the Ducks do lose Kelly to the NFL, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will be promoted to head coach, sources confirmed to ESPN. That decision was first reported by USA Today.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder and The Associated Press were used in this report.