Give the man a raise.
In fact, give him a hefty one.
And while they're cutting checks, Penn State officials should give the people around him raises.
Football coach Bill O'Brien deserves every extra penny agent Joe Linta can insert into his contract. O'Brien received a $2.3 million compensation package this season. His base salary of $950,000 will increase by 5 percent on July 1, 2013. The raise is valued at $47,500. The total should be much higher.
Before arguing the morality behind a significant raise one year into a football coach's nine-year contract, consider the leverage O'Brien has obtained in his financial dealings with Penn State.
He's the Big Ten Coach of the Year, winner of eight games after an 0-2 start and one of the few visible signs of leadership originating from University Park. Four years remain on his initial contract. He received another four years because of the major NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State last July. The deal runs until 2020.
O'Brien can earn more than $21 million over a nine-year span. Unless he makes some awful investments, the 43-year-old O'Brien will enter his 50s with the financial security everybody desires.
He can send his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren to his alma mater, Brown University. He can feed them sirloin and salmon between classes.
So, O'Brien doesn't need more money. But Penn State desperately needs to appease him.
O'Brien has given no indication he wants to leave. That won't stop NFL owners or college athletic directors looking to make a splash from contacting Linta.
Experts who specialize in NFL drivel suggest as many as 10 head coaching jobs might open in the coming weeks. Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee of the name- your-price SEC are among the college programs seeking new coaches. Hiring O'Brien after what he accomplished this past season would offer an instant boost to an ailing franchise or program.
Men with O'Brien's talents don't work cheap. With the possibility of a $5-million per year offer from Arkansas looming, LSU's Les Miles dropped his hat below his eye lashes and agreed to a raise and contract extension Wednesday. Terms of the deal weren't immediately disclosed. Miles receives $3.751 million under his current contract. Miles owns a 85-20 record in eight years at LSU and has led the Tigers to a BCS national championship.
At this moment, O'Brien means more to his school than Miles. Of the all the NCAA sanctions, none pester Penn State more than the transfer waiver. Players have until the start of 2013 preseason drills to transfer and play immediately elsewhere. Miles isn't operating a program handling the nettlesome waiver.
Stage 1 of the waiver cost Penn State 12 scholarship players, including running back Silas Redd, wide receiver Justin Brown and kicker/punter Anthony Fera. Stage 2 arrived following last Saturday's 24-21 season-ending overtime victory over Wisconsin. Stage 3 arrives following spring drills. Stage 4 commences when the summer depth chart is released.
No coach should be subjected to one of the above stages. O'Brien is enduring FOUR.
How well did he stabilize the 2012 roster? Penn State held second-half leads in 11 of 12 games. The Nittany Lions were a few plays, or officiating calls, from winning 10 or 11 games.
If O'Brien leaves, or seriously considers departing, this winter, it could have a cataclysmic impact on Penn State's football program. The damage inflicted by a coaching departure decreases once the waiver expires.
O'Brien knows this. Linta knows this. And acting athletic director Dave Joyner should know this.
Again, O'Brien has offered no hints he will entertain job offers. But multiple NFL owners are preparing to slam the accelerator on coaching changes.
Today's occupied job might become January's No. 1 destination. O'Brien's buyout is $9.2 million, the value of the four remaining years on his existing contract. As crazy as it sounds, owners such as Cleveland's Jimmy Haslam (estimated worth: $1.2 billion) and Dallas' Jerry Jones (estimated worth: $2 billion) can afford a buyout if it means rousing a fan base.
O'Brien's commitment to Penn State means nothing to ruthless businessmen looking to enhance their products. Haslam and Jones built empires by surrounding themselves with talented managers plucked from other jobs. All it takes is one offer for O'Brien and Linta to corner Joyner.
Ask women's basketball coach Coquese Washington what happens when news of a potential suitor leaks. Washington parlayed interest from Big Ten rival Michigan into a contract extension and raise. Washington's compensation package is now valued at close to $700,000 per year.
The fascination with O'Brien's future didn't end Tuesday when he told an Atlanta radio station he plans on staying at Penn State. Later in the day, he earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. Capturing the award over Ohio State's Urban Meyer widens his appeal.
O'Brien receives no financial bonus for winning the award. His contract includes bonuses for Big Ten title game, bowl and BCS championship game appearances, incentives O'Brien has no chance of reaching until the postseason ban ends in 2016.
The days of no-agent football coaches like Joe Paterno are over. Linta's firm represents more than 40 NFL players. You can bet he's positioning O'Brien for an added bonus or raise.
Linta has a powerful case. His client accepted a difficult job, handled seemingly impossible circumstances and earned one of football's top coaching prizes.
If O'Brien doesn't deserve a significant raise, then who does?