While Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Alabama’s Nick Saban are the two head coaches from the college ranks garnering the most attention, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Penn State coach Bill O’Brien may be on more short lists entering the offseason.
As NFL owners and executives revisit the success of college coaches at the pro level, Penn State’s Bill O'Brien may be on more short lists than Oregon's Chip Kelly and that would include the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources.
While O’Brien was more than successful in his first season with the Nittany Lions, “that when O'Brien accepted the task of being the late Joe Paterno's successor, he was told by school officials that the Jerry Sandusky scandal was a criminal matter, not an NCAA concern,” according to Mortensen. We now know this wasn’t the case, as Penn State was handed a four-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions as a result.
For this reason and just based on the lore of coaching at the highest level, O’Brien could consider making the jump from college to the NFL after only one year at Penn State. However, according to reports the coach wouldn’t jump at just any opportunity.
Mortensen notes that O’Brien wouldn’t necessarily jump at an opportunity to coach in the NFL, adding that “it would qualify as a surprise” if he left Penn State after being named Big 10 Coach of the Year.