- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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As everyone knows by now, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien was courted by NFL teams in the past couple of weeks. He admits to have "had conversations" with a couple of those teams.
But O'Brien hasn't gone anywhere, and he said on Monday that he did not use those talks to leverage more money for himself out of Penn State. The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News reported last week that Nittany Lions booster Terry Pegula had donated $1.3 million for an increase in O'Brien's salary. O'Brien denied that.
"You can ask anyone that knows me," he said. "In 20 years of coaching, I have never asked for a raise. The last thing I'm about is money. If I was about money, I probably wouldn't be sitting here. I never asked anybody for a raise. It gets my blood boiling when people say this is about money."
O'Brien did say, however, that he is working with athletic director Dave Joyner and president Rodney Erickson on upgrading support areas around the program like recruiting, academics and strength and conditioning. He didn't offer many specifics, but expect some additional staff members in those areas.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns were two teams that reportedly talked to O'Brien. He said he was never offered a job.
"I'm a coach, it's something that I love, and out of respect for my profession, the NFL is the highest level of my profession," he said. "But I made the decision to stay here, and I'm very proud to be head football coach here."
O'Brien also shot down speculation that he was looking to leave State College because he wasn't told how severe the NCAA penalties would be when he took the job.
"Nobody gave me bad information," he said. "It was just no one really knew. I took a leap of faith, and Penn State took a leap of faith, and I shook their hand to become the next head coach."
O'Brien didn't rule out talking to NFL teams again after next season or coaching at the next level someday. "I'm not a genie," he said when asked about his long-term future. He said he had no intention of coaching at one place into his 80s like his predecessor, Joe Paterno. Fact is, NFL teams will continue to be interested in O'Brien, and he would be foolish not to consider any and all opportunities.
But he'll be coaching Penn State in 2013. And credit him for having this news conference today and at least talking about the situation. Not all coaches would do that in the offseason, and Penn State hasn't always been the most open place.
Some other notes from O'Brien:
Tight end Kyle Carter, who injured his wrist late in the season, may not be ready for the start of spring practice.
Backup running back Curtis Dukes will not return to Penn State for his
senior season. Dukes rushed for only 98 yards this season and did not get a carry after the Sept. 29 Illinois game.
O'Brien said seven incoming players have enrolled for the spring semester, most notably star tight end recruit Adam Breneman and junior college quarterback transfer Tyler Ferguson.
17dMitch Sherman and Brian Bennett