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Friday, July 19, 2013
O'Brien addresses sanctions, Ireland

By Josh Moyer


Bill O'Brien hemmed and hawed Friday morning when asked whether Penn State would ask the NCAA to consider reducing the sanctions. The head coach, fresh off a vacation, initially said he'd have to defer to his bosses on that.

When pressed about his thoughts on the matter, however, he opened up a bit.

"I'm not going to get in the specifics of it," he said. "But I believe that this football program is being run the right way. I believe that we have great kids here, and I think we work very, very diligently to stay in compliance. ... And, again, we make our mistakes, but we admit them right away -- whether it's like a text message or something like that we shouldn't have sent.

"So I think we're in compliance. And hopefully at some point, the NCAA, the governing body of college athletics, looks at that, and they can meet us halfway."

O'Brien addressed the Board of Trustees for more than an hour last week, according to The Centre Daily Times, and presented a slideshow regarding the reduction of sanctions. One of the slides included the words, "Individual lawsuits do not help us!"

ESPN's coach of the year, who was on the conference call to discuss the Ireland game, acknowledged he attended the meeting. And O'Brien insisted he didn't mind word leaking out to the press.

"I was invited down to the Board of Trustees to present to them the sanctions and my thoughts on the sanctions," he said. "I've been asked many, many questions over the last 19 months I've been on the job, and so I accepted the invitation, and I went down there. I don't have anything to hide, you know what I mean?

"I just want to do what's right for these kids and this football program. So, no, I'm not upset about anything. I'm just really excited about starting training camp."

Athletic Director Dave Joyner addressed the media for about 15 minutes before O'Brien took over. He joked to the head coach that he warmed up the crowd, but Joyner was also mum about possible requests to the NCAA.

"We're not planning on anything happening," Joyner added.

Ireland game: Even without a postseason ban, Joyner said the Ireland game was something Penn State still might have pursued.

Although discussions of other venues didn't advance far, destinations such as Hawaii and California were discussed. Once Ireland became a possibility, however, that became the focus.

"I think our fans are excited about it, and I think it's a great way to give our football team and our university sort of a marquee place to play," Joyner said.

Added O'Brien: "From a personal aspect, I'm excited about going over there. ... I was over there I think when I was about 15, 16 years old with my dad, and that was a great trip -- but that was a long time ago."

Quarterback "controversy": Juco signal-caller Tyler Ferguson is still not on campus, but O'Brien emphasized he'll return in time for camp.

He's currently home in California, with a mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rumors initially swirled about a potential transfer, but that was quickly dismissed.

"I'm not sure what the big deal is with that," O'Brien said. "He's not back at school; summer's voluntary. I don't know how we got this ball rolling. Summer workouts -- summer school -- is voluntary, and so Tyler has gone home. His mom is sick.

"He's got a great mom, he's gone home, and he'll be back to training camp. We made a mountain out of a mole hill on that one."