Penn State coach Bill O'Brien will hit the small screen Tuesday as one of four stories being spotlighted on HBO's newsmagazine "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," according to HBO.
Airing at 10 p.m., reporter Andrea Kremer goes one-on-one with the second-year head coach to discuss the turmoil Penn State has been through in the past year and a half and how the coach led his team to success. O'Brien will also discuss how he learned resilience through his son, Jack, who suffers from a brain disorder.
In his first season, the first-year head coach guided the football program through unprecedented sanctions levied by the NCAA -- including a bowl ban, loss of scholarships and vacated wins -- and rallied the team to an 8-4 record. He was also named the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year.
Along with highlighting O'Brien, "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" will also feature three other stories Tuesday: a look at a marathon to honor those who lost their lives in the Oklahoma City bombings, a glimpse at violence against referees, and an analysis of the changing landscape of horse breeding.
Penn State football fans can get a taste today of what the 2014 Big Ten schedule will look like under its realignment – Maryland and Rutgers join the conference next year.
The Nittany Lions will travel to old east coast rival Rutgers for the conference opener for the first time in more than 50 years on Sept. 13, 2014. Penn State has clashed with the Scarlet Knights nine times in New Jersey, the latest six of those meetings being played at Giants Stadium.
Beaver Stadium will host the Terrapins later in the season on Nov. 1, 2014, reigniting a rivalry that ceased in the early nineties. Against Maryland, Penn State is 35-1-1 and has recorded an all-time record of 22-2 vs. Rutgers.
Maryland and Rutgers will join the East Division as part of the realignment along with Penn State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. The West Division includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin.
Here’s Penn State’s full schedule:
Aug. 30 TEMPLE
Sept. 6 AKRON
Sept. 13 *at Rutgers
Sept. 20 UMASS
Sept. 27 NORTHWESTERN
Oct. 11 *at Michigan
Oct. 25 *OHIO STATE
Nov. 1 *MARYLAND
Nov. 8 *at Indiana
Nov. 22 at Illinois
Nov. 29 *MICHIGAN STATE
* East Division game
There are two bye weeks in the schedule as it stands and a non-conference game which still needs to be scheduled. Remember: the Big Ten will play an eight-game conference schedule until 2015. During the 2016 campaign, the Big Ten will move to a nine-game conference schedule.
Former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench has upcoming visits to several schools including South Florida, NC State and Mississippi State, according to multiple reports.
ESPN.com’s Joe Schad reports Bench will visit USF and NC State this week and will take a trip to Mississippi State after that.
Because of the NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State last summer, Bench will be immediately eligible to play at whichever school he decides to transfer to, without sitting out for a season.
Bench made the decision to leave Penn State in April, saying he wasn’t sure where he was headed. But the Nittany Lions were no longer for him.
“I want to be at a school that will give me the best chance of being a starting quarterback,” he said following his transfer announcement. The Georgia-native added at the time that he would “preferably” transfer to a school in the south, but also noted he wouldn’t rule out any schools.
At Penn State, junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg will battle it out for the starting spot at quarterback.
For the second time today, a class of 2014 recruit verbally committed to coach Bill O'Brien and Penn State's program.
Linebacker Jared Wangler, of Warren, Mich., tweeted earlier today that he committed to the Nittany Lions. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound recruit is rated three stars by Rivals and passed on offers from Michigan State, Ohio, and others.
Wangler was recruited by linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and becomes the ninth player to commit to the class. He's the fourth defensive player to commit, joining Troy Reeder, another linebacker, and defensive backs DaQuan Worley and Marcus Allen. Allen committed earlier today.
Wideouts Troy Apke, DeAndre Thompkins and Chris Godwin, along with running backs Nick Scott and Mark Allen, round out the class.
He is rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com and 247sports, and a three-star by Rivals.
The Upper Marlboro, Md., native becomes the eighth player in Penn State's 2014 class. He hadmore than 20 offers according to his rivals profile, and chose the Nittany Lions over Pittsburgh, Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers and Wisconsin, among others. He was recruited by defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
Allen took an unofficial visit during Penn State's Blue-White game April 20, according to Lions247.com.
The 6-foot-1, 187 pound safety is the third defensive player to verbally commit to coach Bill O'Brien for 2014, joining defensive back DaQuan Worley and linebacker Troy Reeder. Rounding out the class are wide receivers Troy Apke, DeAndreThompkins and Chris Godwin, along with running backs Nick Scott and Mark Allen. All eight are rated three stars or better by both Rivals and Scout.
After several visits to Penn State and other major football programs, class of 2014 recruit Quenton Nelson has verbally committed to Notre Dame, he tweeted earlier this evening.
The four-star offensive tackle from Red Bank, N.J., had an offer from Penn State and was recruited by offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and tight ends coach John Strollo, according to his Rivals.com profile.
Nelson also had offers from Rutgers, Ohio State, Stanford, Alabama and a litter of others, but ultimately chose to join the Fighting Irish. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder is rated by Rivals as the eighth best offensive tackle in the nation.
Penn State has six verbals for the class of 2014 including four-star receivers Chris Godwin and De'Andre Thompkins.
Penn State offensive lineman Anthony Stanko has left the team but will remain on scholarship as a student, coach Bill O'Brien announced at today's Coaches' Caravan in Reading, Pa.
The team will operate with 67 players on scholarship when training camp begins in August, per a tweet from Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Jeff Nelson.
Stanko, a redshirt freshman, saw no playing time during his true freshman season and likely wouldn't appear on a depth chart for the upcoming campaign.
The three-star recruit out of Warren, Ohio, was the first to verbally commit to the class of 2012 and one of the first to reaffirm his commitment to Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case broke open in November 2011. Stanko is the second player since July -- when the sanctions were levied against Penn State by the NCAA -- to leave the football team but remain at Penn State.
Stanko's high school coach, Richard Angle, said he was "baffled" to hear the news. As of Monday night, he still hadn't talked to his former lineman, but said he thought Stanko enjoyed the school and was progressing well on the field.
In August, then-redshirt sophomore Dakota Royer left his post as a football player but remained at Penn State to get a degree. Players are able to remain on scholarship without being members of the team because Penn State is prohibited from revoking scholarships from current or incoming athletes due to the sanctions, per a clause in the sanctions agreement.
Stanko couldn't be reached for additional comment.
De’AndreThompkins, a four-star recruit out of Swansboro N.C., has high hopes for the class of 2014. We caught up with him about the commitment process, expectations and more:
Q: You’re a wide receiver but are classified as an athlete -- what do you have to offer in terms of versatility?
A: I played running back, wide receiver and quarterback, so I know what quarterbacks like and don’t like as a wide receiver. As a running back, I have the vision, the footwork, the cuts and the quick bursts. I have the hands, the hand-eye coordination to set people up for routes. I’ve played so many positions that it helps me at wide receiver. I know what certain positions like and don’t like in the game.
Q: You had offers from several other powerhouse programs. Why Penn State?
A: I look for three things when I look at a school. First are the academics, what they do there for their student-athletes and how do they work on them in the classroom. Penn State did that very well. Graduation is very strong - they don’t accept missing classes or excuses. That’s one key thing that stood out is the academic base. If you don’t get anything out of that program, it’s academics first.
The second thing I look at is the football program as far as coaching staff and players. I don’t want to go to a program where the coaching staff leaves or players aren’t treating me well. I look at the commitment the coach has to the team and not just for the money. What kind of bond does the team have? Are they friendly? What are they like outside the football field? I also look at the facilities. Everybody wants to get better and the facilities are a part of that.
Q: And the third thing you look for?
A: The last thing is experience -- getting on the field as soon as possible. I don’t want to go to a school where I start out having huge competition to start. Don’t get me wrong, I love competition. I want guys that are going to push me and make me work for my job. I love competition, but you don’t want a whole bunch of wide receivers in front of you. I want to step on the field.
Q: Penn State got hit with some pretty crippling sanctions. Did those play into your decision at all, especially knowing you won’t play in a bowl game your first two years?
A: I didn’t really think about it at all. With the old staff, they’re long gone, and the new staff is trying to improve on what had been. The new coaching staff is still playing as if they’re going to be a national championship team - they want to go onto the next level. My key thing is trying to be the best football player I can be. As far as bowls, I want to play in one, but if I don’t, I wont be totally heartbroken about it.
Q: What’s coach Bill O’Brien told you about how the offense operates?
A: He just told me that it’s the same offense he ran in New England. It’s pass heavy, but it’s also set up for the run, too. As far as different positions, he has slots and he has outside guys. He said I can play both. The outside guys are deep threats, they run precise routes. The slot is really quick, they want short routes and screens. What he’s trying to do is just come at a defense with so many weapons and so many different styles.
Q: There are two other committed wide receivers in your class. Are you nervous to compete with them for playing time?
A: Not at all. Those guys are great. They’re kind of like me in a sense; they want competition. All three of us together will push each other and make each other the best we can. They’re not recruiting thousands of receivers, it’s us three. I can’t wait to compete with those guys.
With the news coming in today of Steven Bench's transfer from the Penn State football program, there is one less viable option standing in Christian Hackenberg's way to gain playing time this fall.
The five-star blue-chip recruit, as rated by Rivals, will arrive on campus in June and begin formal practice in August to compete with Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson for the starting job. Hackenberg said in a phone interview Wednesday that despite Bench's transfer, his mindset hasn't changed much.
"I’m still just coming in and worrying about myself," Hackenberg said.
Scott Kennedy, the director of scouting for Scout.com, doesn't seem to think the incoming signal-caller has too much to worry about in terms of competition with Ferguson.
"From a talent perspective, it's really not that close I don't think," Kennedy said. "I think Christian is a much higher-ceiling type of player."
With regard to his confidence level heading into the season, Hackenberg said he doesn't want to get too cocky, but he's made it clear he's looking forward to the competition to come.
"You can't go in there and expect to sit," he said. "For me, I'm just going in there with my skillset and competing with Tyler."
For more on Bench's transfer and what it means for Hackenberg, read Thursday's edition of The Daily Collegian.