Report: Teams eyeing Penn State's O'Brien

Coach on short lists for NFL's Eagles, Browns, sources say

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The incessant, as yet to be answered questions regarding Bill O'Brien's future at Penn State were thrust back into the forefront Sunday, with ESPN's Chris Mortensen reporting that O'Brien was likely on some NFL teams' short lists, including the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

The report, using information from anonymous NFL sources, said that O'Brien wouldn't leave for "just any" NFL job and that he could use as leverage an assurance that the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal was a criminal matter rather than an NCAA matter when he accepted the job in January.

O'Brien's agent, Joe Linta, said in an email to the Post-Gazette Sunday night that no NFL team had contacted his client. "Bill has not spoken to any NFL teams and no NFL team has sought Penn State's permission to speak with him as of today," Linta wrote.

If any team, college or pro, wants to hire O'Brien it will be forced to pay a significant buyout. His contract states that if O'Brien terminates his contract with Penn State for any reason other than by death, disability or incapacity, the damages would equal his base salary ($950,000 for last year) and additional compensation ($1,350,000 annually) multiplied by the years remaining on his contract.

Under those terms, a buyout would equal about $9.2 million if applied to the original duration of his five-year contract. But because his contract was automatically extended another four years because of the NCAA sanctions, the buyout amount could be doubled to $18.4 million.

O'Brien's most recent public comments about his future at Penn State were directed to an Atlanta radio station in late November. He said he planned on being head coach at Penn State in 2013.

After the Indiana game in November, O'Brien declined to give a yes or no answer when asked if he would be Penn State's coach next year, saying, "You guys gave legs to a story this week that there was no story there."

O'Brien's recruiting class contains 18 players, headlined by tight end Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg. Recently, Breneman said the trust he had in O'Brien was a major reason why he kept his verbal commitment to the university after the NCAA sanctions.

"If he were to go leave tomorrow, he would have fooled me because I trust my career in his hands," Breneman said earlier this month. "He always stresses that we're making a commitment to him but also he's making a commitment to us."

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