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Penn State football: With season over, Bill O'Brien's future in question

Could Bill O'Brien leave for the NFL?

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

For whatever it's worth, Sports Illustrated's Peter King says he doesn't think Penn State coach Bill O'Brien will head to the NFL next year.

How could he in good conscience leave Penn State? I can't see it.

As Dustin Hockensmith of the Harrisburg Patriot-News notes, Penn State fans hope to keep O'Brien around. And for good reason -- he led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record, and a 6-2 Big Ten record, in just about impossible circumstances. Given the incredibly dark end to the 2011 season, and an offseason that was just as dark, the results O'Brien got would have been extremely difficult to foresee. And even forgetting about the immediate results, the Penn State football program needs to keep moving upward, and given all the recruiting issues it will have in the coming decade, O'Brien's departure could have a devastating effect.

Even if O'Brien won't commit to sticking around next year, though, there are powerful reasons he wouldn't leave yet. For one thing, he'd go from being a hero in Happy Valley to a villain -- no longer an inspirational figure, just an ordinary, mercenary coach. Todd Graham, but 10 times worse. For another, there are compelling financial reasons for him to stay.

So this can stay on the back burner, but for now, let's concentrate on better things -- like the Nittany Lions' surprisingly strong season and Matt McGloin's excellent performance in his senior year. And, um, this.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.