Giger: As rumors swirl out of control, only O’Brien knows what he truly wants to do
Bill O’Brien to the Texans?
Or could it the Browns? (No way! What a crummy job, where any coach could get fired after a year or two.)
How about the Dolphins, if they fire their coach?
Or the Lions, whose coach should be fired?
Or the Giants, whose coach may or may not retire?
And if O’Brien leaves, is Penn State AD Dave Joyner heading to Tampa to woo Greg Schiano?
What about James Franklin, the hot coaching name who’s done a terrific job at Vanderbilt?
There are so many rumors flying around about Penn State’s current coach – and the potential next one – that nobody really knows what to believe.
There is one person who knows what O’Brien is going to do, and he’s not talking.
Wisely, the coach is staying mum, letting the process play out and undoubtedly enjoying the feeling that we all crave, which is to be appreciated for our efforts and wanted by others.
Today is black Monday, and a bunch of NFL jobs will come open. O’Brien will be linked to some of them, but if we are to believe the NFL insiders, he’s atop the Texans’ list, and that organization wants to make a decision by Tuesday.
That puts O’Brien in a bit of a pickle. He could wait and see what all develops with the openings, but the Texans aren’t going to want to be strung along by him, especially with the big salary and buyout they’d be offering.
Opinions vary greatly on how good of a job the Texans gig is, and whether O’Brien can do better either now or perhaps after next season if he comes back to PSU for another year.
Again, only O’Brien knows where he wants to go, what kind of money he’s looking for and if returning to Penn State for another year is even an option.
For all we know, he’s already made up his mind that he’s not coming back to PSU because the school will have a new president and AD by next summer and he doesn’t want any part of that transitional phase.
It has always been my belief that if O’Brien were to leave after his second season, he deserves a heavy dose of thank you’s and pats on the back from everyone for the wonderful job he’s done guiding the program through the dark years of the NCAA sanctions. He’s been a great leader and shown tremendous class throughout his PSU tenure.
However, if he leaves now, just a few days after reportedly telling some recruits that he’s coming back to Penn State, then O’Brien’s legacy could be heavily damaged amongst the fan base.
Many fans already have expressed frustration about the coach potentially walking away from Christian Hackenberg, Adam Breneman and other recruits who stood by their commitments to Penn State despite the sanctions. But the reality is coaches come and go all the time, and promises made during recruiting have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Not, however, if you’re allegedly making those promises over the weekend, only to bolt a few days later. That would be, at the very least, pretty shady on O’Brien’s part if it’s true.
One thing everyone needs to keep in mind with all these rumors is the gamesmanship that takes place in these kind of situations. Everybody has an agenda when they leak something, including team officials, agents and the coach himself.
It’s entirely plausible that O’Brien knows for sure he’s returning to Penn State – just like he’s telling recruits – but that his agent or someone else is leaking favorable information to the media to make him appear more desirable when he does decide to leave for the NFL.
So, who are we to believe? The national NFL reporters who get a lot of their stories correct but also whiff on some, too? Or the high school recruits who remain convinced that O’Brien is staying put at Penn State because that’s what he told them?
Honestly, I have no idea. And probably neither does anyone else.
We all can speculate until we’re blue in the face, but until the coach makes a definitive statement, we’ll all be mostly flying blind when it comes to his future.
Let’s just hope he’s ready to talk in the next couple of days so the Penn State program can move forward and not be held hostage by all these rumors any longer.
Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. Reach him at 949-7031 or @CoryGiger on Twitter.