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Penn State Football: O'Brien Deflects Questions on Illinois Recruiting Tactics in Wake of NCAA Sanctions

by on September 25, 2012 1:01 PM

Bill O'Brien did not bite when fielding questions about Illinois coach Tim Beckman sending eight members of his coaching staff to State College immediately after the NCAA sanctions were announced in an attempt to woo some players to Champaign, Ill.

It's Illinois week, and everyone in the Lasch Football Building remembers the recruiting tactics of the Illini staff after the NCAA declared any Penn State player is free to transfer to any school in the country without having to sit a season out. That transfer rules still applies to any player who hasn't seen any game action this season, and it applies to the entire team once again after the season until preseason practice 2013.

O'Brien, at his weekly Tuesday news conference, threw a stiff arm to each question on the subject.

"The biggest thing is this is our first Big Ten game," O'Brien said. "It's just our players are very focused on the Big Ten schedule. Our players are focused this week on building on what they did well in the Temple game. They’re not concerned about anything other than playing a tough road game in Champaign against a good Illinois team."

How about the fact that Illinois is the only known Big Ten team to turn the heat on as aggressively as the Illini?

"It takes a lot to bother me," O'Brien said, before taking an entirely different route with his answer that outlined a laundry list of every situational area the team would practice this week.

And how this is only a precursor for what's coming in November?

"That's something I'm gonna keep to myself," O'Brien said, "my thoughts on that and continue to discuss the strategy that's involved with that with our staff and our administration here."

Other notes from O'Brien's presser:

  • Running back Bill Belton is expected to play for the first time since he sprained his ankle in the season opener on Sept. 1. Derek Day (shoulder), Michael Zordich (knee) and Curtis Dukes (thigh) are also expected to be available.
  • Defensive end Sean Stanley (back) is expected to play as well, however Pete Massaro (shoulder, knee) probably will not play.
  • Left tackle Donovan Smith (ankle) is also expected back at Illinois. He has yet to complete a full game, previously bothered by cramps and the ankle.

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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