All PSU Fans Really Need to Know about Bill O'Brien's Amended Contract

All PSU Fans Really Need to Know about Bill O'Brien's Amended Contract

It sure was nice of Penn State University to pad head football coach Bill O’Brien’s bank account with a raise, not to mention throw in some additional perks such as additional access to a private jet. Based on the job he did of leading the program to an 8-4 record last year, he earned all of it.

However, the extra cash and prizes most of the news reports focused on sort of buried the lede here. What O’Brien’s “amended contract” really does is make his eventual jump to the NFL all the easier.

You may recall several pro teams, including the Eagles, interviewing O’Brien for their head coaching vacancies over the winter. Based on his time with the New England Patriots and what he was able to do with the Lions in the face of almost crippling NCAA sanctions, O’Brien is likely to remain one of the top candidates in the NFL for years to come.

Ultimately he decided to stay in Happy Valley, and he may have no matter what out of loyalty – he’s only been at Penn State for one season. However, breaking his contract also would have required an enormous buyout, at the time rumored to be as much as $18 million.

That figure was never nailed down. Whatever it was, it’s certainly far less now. Michael David Smith breaks down the numbers at ProFootballTalk.

In 2013, O’Brien’s buyout for an NFL job would be $7.73 million. That’s expensive, although it’s something that any NFL owner could afford if he believes O’Brien is the coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl. In 2014, O’Brien’s buyout would drop to $3.41 million. That’s very affordable for an NFL owner. And the buyout gets down to $3.30 million in 2015 and $1.73 million in 2016, assuming O’Brien is still working on the same contract by then.

Calling those numbers affordable is an understatement. $8 million might give some owners pause, but $3 million? That’s nothing.

So basically what this amended contract really does is pave the way for O’Brien to leave PSU for the NFL. That doesn’t mean he’s going to pack his bags the first chance he gets – which presumably will come next year. If you think O’Brien doesn’t have such aspirations though, think again. Bob Flounder for the Harrisburg Patriot-News reminds us of this:

"My profession is coaching, and in my profession, the National Football League is the highest level of coaching,'' O'Brien said shortly after he announced he was staying at PSU earlier this year.

>> Bill O’Brien’s buyout would be affordable for an NFL owner [PFT]
>> Breaking down Bill O’Brien’s new contract [Penn-Live]

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.