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Saturday Review: Bill O'Brien-Houston Contract Negotiations, Holley and Hackenberg Gain Assurances From Coach

Contract talks, pundit endorsements of coaching replacements and a promise to give fans relief made up a whirlwind Saturday in Penn State coaching news.

Patrick Smith

A lot of news came out today regarding Bill O'Brien's potential move from Penn State into an NFL head coaching position. We've already discussed some on the site today and we'll catch up on some of the rest here.

  • Early in the afternoon today, the team of Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported that after meeting earlier this week, the Houston Texans and O'Brien were beginning work on a contract that would bring the coach from Happy Valley to Houston. O'Brien became the overwhelming favorite for the position after interviewing and the ESPN team reported that the Texans wanted to install a new coach by early next week.
  • Texans owner spoke with the Houston Chronicle saying that the team still has interviews lined up and that the process was not over with yet. A GLIMMER OF HOPE!
  • In between the Belk Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl, Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz talked about the situation with Davis reiterating that the situation was not a done deal and that O'Brien was apparently still very torn on whether he wanted to leave Penn State and head to the NFL. May and Holtz agreed that if O'Brien were to bolt to the pros, Miami coach Al Golden would be a smart first-call for Penn State.
  • In good news for Penn State fans, 247Sports came out with a story this evening saying that O'Brien spoke with 2014 prized Nittany Lion recruit Thomas Holley and that Holley said O'Brien told him that there was no deal in place with Houston and that he would not be going there.

  • Finally, over at PennLive, Audrey Snyder reported that Christian Hackenberg had spoken to Bill O'Brien in the past 24 hours and that while the discussion would stay between the two of them, Christian was very comfortable with the conversation that was had with the coach that had helped him be named to multiple Freshman All-American teams this year. What does "comfortable with the conversation" mean, exactly? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
  • UPDATE: 11:58 p.m. - Bob Flounders reports that he spoke with the fathers of two separate Penn State players and said that they told him there were "not worried right now" and "comfortable with what O'Brien had to say" in regards to today's developments/personal conversations.

So, what does it all mean? Contract negotiations are normally fluid situations. O'Brien reportedly told Holley that there was no deal with Houston on Saturday night, but that doesn't completely discredit the ESPN report that one was in the process of being drawn up. Remember, it was Chris Mortensen that said almost a week ahead of time that O'Brien would become Penn State's head coach nearly two Januarys ago. Say what you want about their journalistic standards, but their NFL team normally knows what they're talking about.

Is this all a smokescreen for another big restructuring of his contract? Well, if you can stomach Florio from Pro Football Talk, you can read this and try to draw a conclusion.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. And stay us with for updates.