Tuesday, January 07, 2014
December 28, 2013
By Ben Jones
With Bill O'Brien's future at Penn State reportedly up in the air, the name most Penn State fans should know is one that has only recently drifted into the picture: Agent Neil Cornrich.
After negotiating a new contract and lower buyout with Penn State, O'Brien parted ways with his former agent Joe Linta and joined forces with Cornrich, an agent who has had his hand in some of the largest college football contracts in the past few seasons.
What does Cornrich bring to the table? A stable of coaches who have benefited greatly from his services. Bill Belichick, Bob Stoops, Bo Pelini, Kirk Ferentz, Todd Graham and Bret Bielema all have seen Cornrich's efforts send big dollars their way.
A few notable achievements under Cornrich:
Bielema: He makes just over 3-million a year while at Arkansas not including additional income upwards of $700,000.
Stoops: He is extended until 2020 with plenty of cash to spare making just over 4-million prior to the extension. In 2004 he became the highest paid coach in NCAA history and again in 2008 with earnings that year totaling close to $6.1 million
Ferentz: He has a massive buyout at Iowa that has made him virtually untouchable. He is guaranteed 75-percent of his remaining salary if he is fired without cause over a 10-year deal signed in 2010. He makes between 3 and 4-million per season. In 2010 Stoops was the highest paid Big Ten coach in conference history.
Graham: Makes just over 2-million per year over a five-year deal.
Ron Prince: After getting fired, Kansas State head coach Ron Prince walked away with a 3.2-million dollar buyout despite posting a losing record over his short time at the helm. Kansas State would take Prince to court over the buyout and what lawyers called a "secret agreement" more or less buried in lines of fine print in Prince's contract.
“Discounted to present value, the $1.65 million settlement figure essentially represents an agreement to pay Coach Prince almost the entire $3.2 million termination payment,” Cornrich said at the time of the settlement. “Coach Prince will receive these funds upfront and almost nine years earlier than they were originally due.”
And the list goes on and on. Dallas Clark became the highest paid tight end in the NFL under Cornrich in 2008. Mike Wahle the highest paid interior lineman in 2005.
But the point remains the same. If O'Brien wants to go to the NFL he will and nothing can stop him. But if he's playing ball with Penn State he has one of the best in the business going to bat for him.
So what will happen next?
The situation right now is murky. ESPN reporters Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter say O'Brien is in talks to become head coach for the Houston Texans. They are perhaps the best NFL reporters in the business. They also happen to be the same reporters who broke O'Brien's hiring just over two years ago. But as Mike Florio pointed out on Saturday night, not even these reports are always as they seem.
"The goal of the leaker could be to help push a deal to conclusion," Florio writes. "The goal of the leaker could be to blow a deal up. The goal of the leaker also could be, quite simply, to curry favor with the persons to whom the information was leaked."
If O'Brien is using the leak as a ploy to pressure Penn State for, higher assistant pay, a lower buyout, or any number of items, none of that will be known until the dust settles. O'Brien has even spoken with top recruit Thomas Holley and told him the reports are false. But in the world of recruiting that is far from a guarantee.
So how does this all end?
With Bill O'Brien coaching somewhere next year, and Neil Cornrich probably getting him exactly what he wants and more.
Until then it's just a waiting game. If O'Brien is headed to the NFL that will become public officially sooner rather than later. If he's playing ball with Penn State, that likely won't be public until he and Cornrich get what they want and even then the details may never fully come to light.
Ironically, O'Brien may turn out to be what fans once said he would be -- a coach that would put time between Joe Paterno, the scandal, and a high-profile and a long term coach. It just turns out he was particularly good at his job. So the question is, would fans have preferred that he was bad at his job in order to make the transition more pleasing?
You have to think not.
It may not be fun for Penn State fans, but welcome to the modern coaching world.