By Eric Zanzucchi (@ericzanzucchi)
At a press conference Monday morning sanctions were handed down to Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. I thought they were going to be severe and indeed they were. The school is being fined $60 million to go to charitable organizations, a four year postseason ban, vacating all wins since 1999, a loss of 20 scholarships per year for the next four years, and all current Penn State players and recruits may be released from their scholarships to instantly transfer to another program.
This puts their new head coach Bill O’Brien in a very difficult spot. He was hired to succeed Joe Paterno in February with the assumption that they would receive light sanctions or none at all. Penn State has had one of their best recruiting classes of all time, but with today’s announcement that is all put in jeopardy. This punishment is only slightly less debilitating than SMU’s Death Penalty 25 years ago, which they’ve never fully recovered from. My initial thought is that Bill O’Brien will take the first NFL job he gets offered just to avoid the mess now on his hands. (By going back to NFL where he’s coached his whole career he can get out of his contract a lot easier than by trying to move to another college.) Then I began to think about the reality of his situation.
Bill O’Brien is the only coach in pro or college football with no expectation of winning over the next 6-8 years.
He’s making $2.3 million per year for the next five years. If he went back to the NFL as an assistant he’d likely make less. He’s now become a tenure professor. He can work as much or as little as he’d like and no matter what he and the university are stuck with each other. At this point the university can’t find anyone better. No matter what he decides, it’s funny how things can work out.