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Penn State Football: O'Brien Says Sanctions Not Worse Than Death Penalty

by on July 24, 2012 12:00 PM

Updated at 2:11 p.m.

Before the Penn State brass signed off on the NCAA sanctions for its football program, head coach Bill O’Brien had two requests:

  1. Let there be football
  2. Let there be televised football

“At the end of the day, that’s all you want,” O’Brien said. “You wanna be able to play football in a fantastic, beautiful stadium in front of passionate fans, and you want the fans who can’t get to the game to see you on TV, and we got that.”

In an interview with the Centre Daily Times on Monday, PSU President Rodney Erickson said the NCAA threatened to implement the so-called death penalty and shut down the football program if Penn State did not agree to the proposed sanctions.

O'Brien said the sanctions are not worse than the death penalty.

"We are playing football," he said. "We open our season on Sept. 1 in front of 108,000 strong against Ohio University, and I couldn’t feel better about that."

Now, what remains to be seen is who will suit up Aug. 6 when preseason practice starts and, more importantly, for the Sept. 1 season opener against Ohio.

For now, O’Brien said no players have immediately decided to transfer from the program.

Earlier at noon

Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien gave his first public interview since the NCAA levied significant sanctions on his program Monday.

Appearing on the Dan Patrick Radio Show, O'Brien said his coaching staff remains on board for the 2012 season, and he's talked with several players — no names were mentioned — about their future with the program.

The headliners Tuesday:

  • When pressed, O'Brien would not give an exact percentage on the likelihood he would remain Penn State's coach for the duration of his five-year contract. The farthest he went was saying he was "committed to this football team."
  • O'Brien said his coaching staff remains intact.
  • O'Brien has talked with several players about their future with the program. In addition to the sanctions the NCAA handed down, it's also allowing all players to transfer and immediately be eligible to play in 2012. ESPN has reported USC has started courting junior running back Silas Redd. O'Brien, as expected, did not name any specific players with whom he's had discussions.

O'Brien said the coaching staff held two meetings over the past two days for how to manage the sanctions and field a competitive team, but he did not elaborate on how to do so.

He did hint toward different scenarios to reward players throughout the season, in exchange for a lost chance at a bowl or Big Ten title.

But first? Keeping the 2012 roster intact.

"We have the chance to play in six or seven bowl games per year in front of 108,000 people at home," O'Brien said. "I don't know how many bowl games have 108,000 people, but the last time I checked, there aren't any."

O'Brien said he first found out about the sanctions during the 9 a.m. news conference Monday and immediately went to work trying to control the damage, reiterating to his team that he chose to come to Penn State against extraordinary measures because of the balance the university strikes between athletics and academics.

Of course, that doesn't account for the reality of the immediate situation, having to tell prospective recruits they won't have a chance to play for conference championship or bowl game.

So, Coach, what's the living room pitch, aside from education and a rabid fan base?

"This staff will develop you to play at the next level," O'Brien said.

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