By Pete Thamel
January 03, 2013

Amid Thursday reports that Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien appears destined to accept an NFL job, a Penn State source indicated that O'Brien's departure is not a foregone conclusion.

Penn State is in the midst of a massive push to keep O'Brien, according to a source, and has received positive indications that he's strongly considering staying.

The source said that the university is tugging at O'Brien's heartstrings and attachment to the school that gave him his break to be a head coach. The emotional tie O'Brien has to the school is a looming factor in any decision on his future.

O'Brien led Penn State to an 8-4 record and a surprising 6-2 mark in Big Ten play in 2012. His debut season was even more impressive considering the flurry of talented players who either transferred after the NCAA announced its sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal or rescinded their commitment to attend the university.

O'Brien has drawn interest from several NFL teams, including the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, according to reports. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that O'Brien interviewed with the Browns earlier in the week. Both of those teams are believe to be holding out for the chance to speak with Oregon's Chip Kelly, who is clearly the hottest commodity now that most NFL executives believe Nick Saban will not consider an NFL job this year.

Despite three more years of a bowl ban and significant scholarship losses, O'Brien has still managed to lure a decent 2013 recruiting class that includes highly regarded quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

O'Brien's departure would be a giant setback for a Penn State program that may not be back at the NCAA scholarship limit of 85 until 2020.

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