Penn State coach O'Brien denies raise, football program changes


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Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien this morning denied receiving a $1.3 million raise paid for by a donor as well as that there have been structural changes to the football program in the wake of his considering NFL coaching jobs.

"Going back to money and all these things, you really don't know me if you write something or say something that this guy did it for leverage and money," O'Brien said this morning. "I had a conversation in the best interest of my family with a few people. And at the end of the day this is the decision I made. We're all faced with choices."

O'Brien confirmed that he was contacted by NFL organizations last week, declining to comment on which teams. He was reportedly interviewed by Cleveland and Philadelphia.

"In my profession the NFL is the highest level of coaching," O'Brien said. "You don't get any higher than the National Football League. ... At the end of the day the most important thing is the decision I made to be at Penn State. I can't think of a better place to be."

O'Brien said he and acting athletic director Dave Joyner spoke two or three times a week since he took the job and often discussed ways to improve the football program.

He said nothing new was brought up or enacted since last week after the NFL interest and his new commitment to Penn State.

O'Brien declined to specifically discuss the changes and improvements he would like made at Penn State, saying that was for the "inner circle."

He briefly mentioned the possibility of bonuses for assistant coaches but otherwise all he said was he wanted his staff and players to be in the best position to succeed and wanted to see that was the case every year.

Said Joyner: "Everything is at it has been. I'm not going to talk about personnel stuff. Bill talked about bonuses and again that's personnel stuff. I'm not going to talk about it. But we're always trying to improve things for people. We have budgets to live with and we have to run it as a good business but within that you have to keep in mind you want to keep your people happy."

As the reports of last week came out, Joyner and O'Brien's relationship was called into question.

Joyner said he and O'Brien communicated regularly, except for the couple of days O'Brien was at Disney World on vacation with his family.

Joyner said he was at the Rose Bowl at the behest of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and talked with O'Brien via email and text.

Joyner said that on Thursday they continued to talk about the improvements and changes that both said have been ongoing since O'Brien took the job and declined to discuss specifics.

Joyner said Penn State hadn't made any short lists for new coaches in case O'Brien left.

"The week worked out exactly the way he and I talked about in the beginning, as far as timing and discussions and things like that," Joyner said.

He continued: "Look, Bill O'Brien is committed to Penn State. I personally believe he wants to be here a long time."

O'Brien echoed the sentiments between him and Joyner, as well as president Rodney Erickson, saying he believed in the chain of command and respected them.

At the end of the press conference, he was asked about his future. Would any of these complications, or all of them, come up again next year?

"I love coaching here," O'Brien said. "I love living here. ... I don't see it that way again. I'm not a genie. I don't have a crystal ball. Again this is my profession. I'm a coach and this (the NFL) is the highest level, but like I've said, I can't be more clear about this: I love coaching these kids."

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com and on Twitter: @mdent05.


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