Big Ten media day was Thursday in Chicago. Here’s are some of Penn State coach Bill O’Brien’s comments.
•On the challenge of keeping his team together:
“First thing I did after the 9 a.m. press conference on Monday is I had a 10 a.m. meeting and I talked to our players about a number of things. … I talked to them about the education that they’re receiving at Penn State. … I talked to them about their commitment to each other. … I talked to them about adversity. … I talked to them about without a shadow of a doubt they’re going to be able to play six to seven bowl games per year in front of 108,000 screaming fans in Beaver Stadium and I expect it to be 108,000 fans in Beaver Stadium.”
“First of all, let me tell you how much respect I have for Bret Bielema, what he’s done at the University of Wisconsin. He’s a heck of a football coach and been proven on and off the field. The second thing I can tell you (is) the rules are what they are and … it’s like NFL free agency without the rules. So they can do what they want as long as they tell our compliance office that they’re contacting these kids, and it is what it is. So I don’t really have anything to say on that.”
•On changing Penn State’s uniforms:
“There’s a lot of discussions going on with our football team right now. … And there’s changes that have taken place at Penn State over the last six months that are reflected already. The new era of Penn State football. And some of the changes people will have to wait and see until September, on September 1st.”
•On whether any of his players have told him they intend to transfer:
“Right now, no.”
•On how his bosses negotiated the sanctions with the NCAA:
“I think our Board of Trustees came out with a statement last night that as I’ve said over the last two days that it’s time to move forward, turn the page. The sanctions are what they are. It’s time to get up and get going, which we started doing Monday at 10 a.m. I think Dr. Erickson is a tremendous leader. I think over the last six months he’s had to make some very difficult decisions and he’s made them. And I would say the same for Dave Joyner. So I’m proud to work for those two guys, and I stand by the decisions that they make.
•On the key to success despite the restrictions:
“The key is No. 1 to keep this 2012 team together, which right now it is together. And we’ve got to continue to communicate with our players and that’s what we’re doing on a daily basis, minute to minute, we’re communicating with these players. … I’ve heard the talk that this is so bad and what are we going to do. I don’t see it that way. … I see it as an opportunity. … I came from a league where there were 53 players on the roster, eight practice squad players and 45 players on the active roster, 21 on offense, 21 on defense, three specialists on game day. So I’m pretty well aware of how to handle a roster of 65 scholarship players. So we have plans in place.”