Penn State Football: Bill O'Brien Takes Center Stage at Big Ten Media Days Amid Hectic Week
CHICAGO — Bill O'Brien spent all of Wednesday in front of the cameras, flying to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., for a flurry of interviews in the wake of significant NCAA sanctions imposed on his program.
It's been a week of hell — again — for the Penn State football team, starting with NCAA President Mark Emmert's announcement Monday of sanctions. Thursday, O'Brien faces his next media test as the lone representative of Penn State during Big Ten Media Days here at the Hyatt McCormick Place.
Running back Silas Redd, offensive lineman John Urschel and defensive tackle Jordan Hill were removed from the trip Wednesday for unknown reasons.
Since then, here's the gist of what's transpired this week:
- Redd, the star junior tailback, started being courted by Southern California.
- More than 30 players pledged their commitment to remain at Penn State in 2012.
- Coaches from other universities have reportedly been spotted on Penn State's campus outside the football facility and players' apartments, waiting to speak with them about a possible transfer to their school.
- Word came from the NCAA that any player on the roster can transfer to another school and immediately be eligible to play. The deadline to transfer without penalty is the start of preseason practice in 2013.
- O'Brien got an automatic extension because of the sanctions that puts him under contract through the 2020 season.
- The Board of Trustees, initially irked at being kept out of the loop by president Rodney Erickson about the NCAA sanctions, decided not to challenge the consent agreement signed by Erickson after a closed-door meeting Wednesday. Penn State was reportedly facing a four-year shutdown of the program if it did not agree to the sanctions.
Thursday and Friday promise to bring another round of interviews with myriad TV, radio and print outlets for O'Brien.
He will undoubtedly, like predecessor Joe Paterno, take center stage at the two-day event, even with storylines such as Urban Meyer making his Big Ten coaching debut, Brady Hoke sustaining the momentum of bringing Michigan football back to national prominence and Wisconsin gunning for a third-straight Big Ten championship.