July 26, 2012 at 5:52 PM
CHICAGO -- Coach Bill O’Brien, linebacker Michael Mauti, defensive tackle Jordan Hill and guard John Urschel all attended Big Ten media days on Thursday. Here are some highlights from the first day.
-Running Back Silas Redd was originally scheduled to attend the media days along with Urschel, Hill and O’Brien. It was reported Wednesday that no Penn State players would be attending. On Thursday, plans were reversed last minute so that Penn State players would attend (the players didn’t know they were coming until this morning, an hour before getting on the plane). However, Mauti replaced Redd on the list of attendees. ESPN reported that Redd was meeting with USC head coach Lane Kiffin on Thursday as he considers transferring from Penn State. When asked to elaborate on Redd’s status, O’Brien responded, “No.” Later, when talking about returning players, O’Brien did mention Redd as if he was a definite returner, but he may have misspoke there.
-ESPN reports Anthony Fera is considering a transfer to Texas.
-O’Brien stressed the importance of having a strong walk-on program for the next several years to compensate for the scholarship reductions as much as possible.
-O’Brien continues to devalue the importance of non-BCS bowl games as a selling point to current and prospective players. “With all due respect to all the other bowl games, the National Championship is the one you want to be in,” O’Brien said. He added: “NCAA sanctions aren't the end of the world. You have to keep things in perspective." O’Brien’s oldest son is handicapped with a rare brain disorder, so O’Brien has juxtaposed Penn State’s adversity to his own.
-This O’Brien quote speaks for itself: “I’m so tired of hearing that Penn State is dead. It is alive.” He said the belief that his football program is dead makes him angry. “I’m an Irish guy born and raised in [New England]. I have a little bit of a temper.”
-As for the possibility of new uniforms, O’Brien had initially not intended to make any changes. On a recent conference call with the players’ parents, he suggested making some changes and possibly putting names on the back.
-Mauti said the players’ routines have not been disrupted. “When the ship is going through a storm, you don’t drop anchor,” he said.
-O’Brien described a scene when he was showing the players some New England Patriot film in an effort to implement the Patriots’ offensive foundation at Penn State. He said the players were watching the film as fans, so he had to turn it off and explain to them the importance of watching it as students of the game.
-Mauti said that the players’ statement on Wednesday reaffirming their support for the program was fullback Michael Zordich’s idea.