Monday, January 7, 2013
Bill O'Brien: Decision wasn't financial
By Josh Moyer NittanyNation
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien folded his arms in front of a packed media room Monday morning as he addressed his hopes for the future and sought to set the record straight about his Penn State return.
He insisted he never asked for a raise, despite reports a wealthy donor offered to add $1.3 million to his $2.3 million salary.
And he said his main aim this offseason was to make several structural changes to the football program -- such as adding graduate assistants to the recruiting staff or employees to the academic staff.
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"If I was about money, more than likely, I probably wouldn't be sitting here now," said O'Brien, ESPN's Coach of the Year. "It's not about money. It's about making sure that Penn State University, the Penn State athletic department, Penn State football does everything we can to make sure it's the best we can for our student-athletes. That's what it's about."
O'Brien acknowledged he flirted with the NFL after his Penn State team finished 8-4. Several teams contacted his agent, and sources told ESPN he interviewed with the Cleveland Browns last week. Hours after that news broke last Thursday, O'Brien said he was sticking with Penn State.
The former New England offensive coordinator acknowledged interest did not move beyond "conversations" and that he received no job offers. But when asked if he would again field interest from NFL teams next season, O'Brien declined to address his future commitment to the Nittany Lions.
"I mean, that's next year," O'Brien said. "I'm telling you right now I'm committed to this 2013 team, and I'm looking forward to coaching them."
The dimple-chinned coach, dressed in a dark blazer and slacks, reiterated his love of Penn State throughout the news conference. But, he added, "You don't get any higher than the National Football League."
He said he owed it to his family -- whom he recently took to Disney World -- to listen to interest and make the best decision for them.
"It's my job as the father and the husband in that house that I take care of my family first," he said. "That's my duty as a father and husband, and that's what I did. And, again, we couldn't be happier than being at Penn State."
O'Brien originally signed a four-year contract in January 2012, and it was extended another four years due to the sanctions. According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, O'Brien's buyout stands at $9.2 million.
Penn State's head coach wouldn't go into detail about changes he hoped to make to the program. But athletic director Dave Joyner told ESPN that he found most of O'Brien's requests reasonable -- and some were already moving ahead to the implementation stage.
Joyner also declined to detail the changes but acknowledged the recruiting staff would almost certainly receive a boost.
"We haven't decided whether we'll add one person, two people, or moving someone who's there already," Joyner said. "But something will be implemented in that regard because it's a good area to do it. We're just going to decide how."
O'Brien, in his first news conference since Nov. 24, also touched on other topics -- such as early enrollees and his quarterback situation for the 2013 season. He also revealed that Curtis Dukes, a rising redshirt senior, was no longer with the football team.
Dukes publicly complained of a lack of playing time in October. He finished the season with 26 carries for 98 yards.