What started a few weeks ago as a spark of speculation about the future of Bill O‚??Brien had turned into a full five-alarm blaze by Thursday night.
O‚??Brien had little choice but to douse it himself.
Just hours after reports began leaking out that the Penn State coach had interviewed with an NFL team, O‚??Brien and his agent said he would remain with the Nittany Lions.
Penn State did not put out a formal statement about O‚??Brien‚??s decision, only confirming that the coach would be back in 2013.
‚??I‚??m not a one-and-done guy,‚?Ě O‚??Brien told The Patriot-News in Harrisburg. ‚??I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that‚??s what I am going to do.
‚??I‚??m not gonna cut and run after one year, that‚??s for sure.‚?Ě
O‚??Brien and his coaching staff are expected to receive pay raises, according to the report.
The decision to stay came shortly after The Plain Dealer in Cleveland revealed that O‚??Brien had interviewed with the Cleveland Browns this week. He had also been linked to interest from the Philadelphia Eagles.
O‚??Brien declined to address his future as his first season at Penn State wound down in November and did not hold a formal postseason press conference.
He did, however, do a handful of national TV and radio interviews in which he said he intended to return to Penn State for the 2013 season.
‚??Oh, I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said in December. ‚??That‚??s my plan, and that‚??s what I intend to do.‚?Ě
O‚??Brien‚??s agent, Joe Linta, echoed those sentiments that same week, saying that O‚??Brien had no intention of leaving Penn State.
Incoming recruits traveling around the country for various all-star games also said that O‚??Brien told them he would stick with the Lions.
Under O‚??Brien, the Lions won eight of their final 10 games after an 0-2 start and the coach received national accolades for his work following the NCAA sanctions that hammered the program in July.
Penn State remains in a particularly fragile state, however, as the NCAA has ruled that players can transfer without penalty until preseason camp begins in August. The Lions have five new recruits set to enroll next week for the spring semester. Signing day for the rest of the 2013 recruiting class is in February.
Named Joe Paterno‚??s successor last Jan. 6, O‚??Brien has eight years remaining on his contract, which had four years tacked on to its original five-year length because of the sanctions.
The Lions cannot play in the postseason for three more seasons. Beginning with next month‚??s recruiting class, the team can only sign 15 players (down from 25) and starting with the 2014 season, the Lions can only have 65 total scholarships (down from 85).
Any NFL team trying to hire O‚??Brien would be forced to pay a hefty buyout, potentially as much as $18 million if the buyout clause is ruled to carry over to the extension. Linta has disputed that this would be the case.