Before the 2012 college football season, the Penn State football program was in the kind of turmoil that few universities have ever experienced. On the heels of the Paterno/Sandusky scandals (an entirely different matter), the team was gutted with transfers, and newly-hired head coach Bill O’Brien was thrust into the public spotlight in a way that he couldn’t have foreseen. Today, Penn State rewarded him for his trouble, and for his on-field excellence.
On Thursday, the university released O’Brien’s contract terms (it is a public university), and they showed a nearly $1 million pay increase for O’Brien’s upcoming season. In 2012, he made only $950,000 in base salary, but for the upcoming campaign, that number will climb to a reported $1.9 million. Obviously, a more-than-double pay increase is substantial, but O’Brien’s performance certainly warranted the increase.
Penn State scraped together an 8-4 record last season, and frankly, the talent level remaining on campus didn’t reflect that of an 8-4 team in the Big 10. O’Brien took Matt McGloin (the team’s quarterback and a big-time project) and made him into a semi-stud, and in the process, took the offense to a new level. The head coach’s most high-profile experience before arriving in Happy Valley was as the QB Coach for Tom Brady in New England, and that type of pedigree appeared to help him with McGloin in 2012.
However, the turmoil isn’t close to coming to an end at Penn State. The team will be under sanctions until 2016, and the biggest issue (the bowl ban) runs through the 2015 season. With all of that said, O’Brien resisted an opportunity to jump elsewhere (including the NFL), and he was rewarded with both the contract increase and a Nike contract that could pay him over $12 million for the next 4 seasons.
Frankly, he’s worth every penny.