Giger: Get used to O’Brien to NFL rumors because they’re not going away
‘Tis the season to look forward to college bowl games, pro teams making a push for the playoffs and, of course, the inevitable Bill O’Brien to the NFL rumors.
As long as O’Brien remains at Penn State, and continues to do excellent work, these rumors will be a certainty at this time of year.
The latest involve the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans, both of which already have reached out to O’Brien about becoming their head coach, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
La Canfora is one of the best NFL insiders around, so there’s a good chance those two teams and potentially others are interested in O’Brien.
The Washington Redskins also could be interested if, as widely expected, coach Mike Shanahan is ousted after the season.
As I’ve said all along, I think O’Brien is an NFL guy and will bolt for the league as soon as the right opportunity comes along.
The Nittany Nation then can wish him well for his outstanding work, which will include leaving the PSU program in much better shape than it was when he arrived in the early stages of the Sandusky scandal in January of 2012.
The key here is which opportunity O’Brien would view as the right one.
The Redskins? Absolutely. A storied franchise with a potential star quarterback in Robert Griffin III, with the only drawback being a meddlesome owner in Daniel Snyder.
The Texans? Yep. They’ve been a disaster this season at 2-12, but there are enough pieces in place to think that things could get turned around in a hurry.
The Vikings? Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t know what O’Brien would see in that organization, and he’d be wise to be patient and wait for a better situation.
If he leaves for the NFL after this season, O’Brien’s buyout would be about $6.7 million, based on this year’s base salary ($1.9 million) times the 3 1/2 years he has left on the deal. If an NFL team wants him badly enough, it will pay that, plus the buyout could have some legal wiggle room for all we know.
Penn State will have a new president and new athletic director by the middle of next year after terms for both Rodney Erickson and Dave Joyner come to an end. O’Brien would have new bosses, which could be somewhat unsettling to him but I doubt would be the deciding factor in him leaving.
The deciding factor would be O’Brien wanting to prove himself at the highest level of his profession. Just like many of us would if given the opportunity.
He has a chance to stay at Penn State and coach a dynamic quarterback in Christian Hackenberg for up to three more seasons, and that has to be appealing to O’Brien.
Then again, the NCAA sanctions force O’Brien to work harder than 99 percent of the coaches in the country just to win seven games, and who would want to bang his head against that wall any longer than he has to?
We are in the early stages of the NFL coaching rumor mill, and as the season winds down, O’Brien’s name probably will pop up more and more.
Get used to it. This year. Every year.
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.