The buyout clause in Bill O’Brien’s contract was widely believed to be one of the biggest obstacles to the Penn State coach leaving for the NFL.
Joe Linta, who represents O’Brien, said that never factored into O’Brien’s decision to stay at Penn State after he received interest from a handful of teams, including the Browns and Eagles.
“Any report that said (the buyout) entered into the decision is patently false,” Linta told the Tribune-Review Friday. “This decision was predicated on integrity and commitment.”
Linta declined to talk about the buyout, which has been reported as anywhere from $9-18 million. He said it is not as “one-sided” as has been reported, and that it didn’t become an issue since O’Brien never seriously considered leaving Penn State.
Talks with the Eagles and Browns never went beyond the preliminary, Linta said, adding that they “didn’t get past first base.”
All indications are that O’Brien used the leverage created by the NFL interest in him to wrangle a few concessions from Penn State.
Erick Hackenberg, the father of prized quarterback recruit Christian Hackenberg, said he never worried about O’Brien leaving after talking with the coach at the beginning of the week. O’Brien, he said, told the family to brace for his name getting linked to NFL jobs but not to give credence to any reports.
“Bill gave us absolute assurance that he would coach Penn State next year,” the elder Hackenberg told the Tribune-Review Friday.
Word started reaching the players that he was staying a couple of hours before O’Brien and his camp went official with it on Thursday night.
Penn State’s defensive backs received a text message from John Butler, their position coach, at around 8 p.m.
The message reiterated that Penn State’s coaches weren’t going anywhere. It also informed the players to be ready Monday when offseason workouts begin.
– Scott Brown