Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Bill O'Brien plans to stay at PSU
ESPN.com news services
Bill O'Brien dismissed rumors about his potential departure from Penn State, insisting during a radio interview that he will return to coach the Nittany Lions next season.
"I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State (in 2013)," O'Brien said Tuesday in an interview with 790 AM "The Zone" in Atlanta. "That's my plan and that's what I intend to do."
The interview came on the same day that O'Brien's agent, Joe Linta, told ESPN that his client is committed to staying at Penn State.
Linta also said that recent talk about how much O'Brien would be forced to pay in order to buy out the remaining eight years of his contract at Penn State are "irrelevant."
"(O'Brien) is staying, and we've had no conversations with anyone else," Linta said. "In fact, he's leaving at 6 in the morning tomorrow to go out on the recruiting trail."
O'Brien also denied uttering a profanity in his on-the-field interview after Saturday's victory over Wisconsin, claiming he called his team "fighters" -- not a profane word some thought he said.
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The interview, which appeared live on ESPN2, and whether O'Brien let slip an expletive, became a big topic of discussion on the Internet after the game.
According to accounts, O'Brien's voice cracked a bit during the postgame interview. While he was trying to say "fighters," the word sounded like an expletive that begins with the letter F.
"They're a bunch of (bleepers)," O'Brien said after Penn State's season-ending 24-21 victory. "They fight hard."
O'Brien said Tuesday that people didn't hear what they thought they did, claiming he said "fighters."
"You guys know me," O'Brien told the radio audience. "You know I'm not a choir boy, but I said 'fighters.' "
O'Brien coached the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record this season in the wake of the program receiving unprecedented sanctions from the NCAA. But rumors about O'Brien possibly leaving began circulating after he declined to commit when asked by a newspaper reporter if he would return.
The former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, O'Brien also reportedly drew interest from an NFL team.
O'Brien's original contract with Penn State was worth $12 million over five years. But the deal was extended for another four years after Penn State was banned from postseason play for four years as a result of the NCAA sanctions related to the school's conduct in connection with the Jerry Sandusky child-sexual abuse scandal.
O'Brien also lost 15 scholarship athletes per year for the next four years as a penalty, something Linta said he thought was unfair.
"There are 10 kids left each year that won't get scholarships now," Linta said. "It's not like the NCAA gave an extra 10 scholarships to Boston College."
Linta also said he hopes to reopen negotiations with Penn State as to what to do with bowl bonuses. O'Brien was owed $100,000 if the Nittany Lions went to a bowl game, but he will not be financially rewarded for recording more than six wins in a season due to the school's bowl ban.
Should he choose to leave Penn State, O'Brien's contract calls for him to pay the school $9.2 million over four years or $18.4 million over eight years, depending on how many years he is obligated to compensate for.
Linta said his interpretation is that, since the four-year extension was a result of the sanctions instead of a reward to O'Brien, the coach's buyout would only need to cover the remaining four years of the initial deal.
"Bill O'Brien will not be punished as a result of Penn State's actions prior to him agreeing to the contract," Linta said.
Penn State athletic director David Joyner was said to be traveling and unavailable for comment.
ESPN's Darren Rovell contributed to this report.