Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

July 3, 2013

Thanks a million!

Former Andover resident O'Brien doing just fine following Paterno

The Sporting Scene
Bill Burt

---- — Somebody forgot to tell a particular former Andover resident that it was next to impossible to replace a legend.

O’Brien, who attended St. John’s Prep, is proving a lot of people wrong, including those that figured coaching football at Penn State after Joe Paterno was a big-time losing proposition.

O’Brien has agreed to an amended contract that will raise his pay by nearly $1 million for his second season as football coach, the university has announced.

The changes in his contract include a boost in salary for the contract year beginning July 1 to $1,932,779, an increase of more than double his first-year base pay of $950,000. The university will pay him $935,279 of that figure in one lump-sum payment within three days after “the execution and delivery of this contract.”

Athletic Director Dave Joyner said the new provisions in the contract were added to honor O’Brien’s “tremendous job with all facets of the Penn State football program,” one of which was an 8-4 record.

O’Brien finished second in the voting for AP Coach of the Year, behind another St. John’s Prep grad, Brian Kelly at Notre Dame.

O’Brien’s base pay will be $1,137,096 in the year that begins July 1, 2014, and $1,650,994 the next year. A 5 percent hike for July 1, 2016 would boost his base to $1,733,544. O’Brien signed a five-year contract on Jan. 6, 2012.

An interesting provision to the new contract covers O’Brien’s buyout if he is to take another job, which differentiates if the job is with an NFL team or another college team.

If O’Brien takes an NFL job, he would have to pay back just his base salary for each year over the remainder of the contract. However, if he were to go to another college, he would have to pay an additional $1.35 million — $1 million for radio, TV and public appearances and $350,000 for the shoe and apparel deal with Nike — for every year of the contract.

The new plan allows Penn State to pay O’Brien up to $200,000 annually in incentives that it estimates he would have earned without sanctions based on the Nittany Lions’ record as compared to other Big Ten teams.

There are more perks in the new deal, including increased use of Penn State’s aircraft for recruiting or other university business (He will have use of the jet for 85 hours a year for business and 35 hours for personal use).

The new deal also calls for O’Brien to receive a retrofitted van to accommodate his special needs son, Jack, who has a brain disorder known as lissencephaly.

O’Brien’s rise through the coaching ranks has been monumental since he left Duke University at its offensive coordinator after the 2006 season to join the Patriots as a quality control assistant, before becoming the Patriots quarterback coach and later offensive coordinator.

“It’s amazing what has happened to me,” O’Brien said. “I can’t explain how lucky and grateful I am.”

Associated Press contributed to this story.


Bill Burt is executive sports editor of The Eagle-Tribune. If you have any sports tidbits you’d like to get in, email him at