July 27, 2012 at 4:23 PM
CHICAGO -- Penn State coach Bill O'Brien reasserted that, as NCAA President Mark Emmert stated in his press conference Monday, it is possible for the NCAA to reduce the sanctions if Penn State give total compliance to its rules.
It is also possible that the NCAA could increase the sanctions "if we're not crossing our t's and dotting our i's," O'Brien said. "[But] I'm going to make sure we're compliant in every single way. Whether it's recruiting, whether it's the hour rules that control how many hours your student-athletes can practice and lift weights per week. In the six months I've been here, we've had four or five compliance meetings with Matt Stolberg, our compliance officer. I want to make that clear for everybody, that many, many [steps toward compliance] were taken at Penn State before the sanctions came out."
To achieve effective compliance, O'Brien said he has opened the flood gates of Penn State football to media ("we've let you guys have more access in the last six months than you've had in the last 30 years"), compliance officers, faculty, President Rodney Erickson and Joyner. He said he will especially welcome the NFL so its teams can conveniently scout Penn State players.
"Before the sanctions came out, we were doing things the right way and we will continue to do things the right way," he said.
Notes from O'Brien
- When asked if he shared any similarities with linebacker Michael Mauti: "Personality-wise," he confirmed. "But I'd take his hairline."
- O'Brien said New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has reached out to him in wake of the NCAA sanctions on Penn State. "He has a lot of good thoughts of things," O'Brien said. "And he doesn't believe Penn State football is dead."
- O'Brien said he may not call walk-ons "walk-ons" anymore. He hasn't decided on a replacement name.
- "People who just read the sanctions, and say, 'Oh, I quit. See you later.' That's a bunch of bull. What you do is look at the sanctions and figure out how to deal with it," O'Brien said
- O'Brien said that if he brought in a Penn State student-athlete on scholarship for another sport, he believes it would count toward the football team's scholarship limit. He also does not think he can he break up a scholarship between multiple athletes and have it count as one.
- As for the rest of the fine print of the NCAA's sanctions? "There's a lot of questions we have for the NCAA. It's a constantly evolving situation," O'Brien said.
- Before the sanctions and during the summer when O'Brien's football activity is limited, the coach took some time to cool down. "I was on Cape Cod with my wife and kids, drinking a Coors Light, sitting on the front yard," he said. Unfortunately, his vacation was cut short by the NCAA's sanctions. "I was going to be there for two weeks. I went to the airport, rented a car and it took me eight hours to get back to State College."
- O'Brien said almost the entire team has reaffirmed commitments to Penn State, with the exception of two or three players. "The core group of our best players, as I sit here right now, have told me their coming back." And Silas Redd... "Our core group of our best players have told me they're coming back."
- On socializing with Big Ten coaches last night: "I didn't say I socialized with everybody." The media laughed, but O'Brien was dead serious. He might be taking some exception to conference schools recruiting his players, despite its legality.
- As a parent, O'Brien said he can empathize with the players' parents' anger at being hounded by recruiters. "I'm a dad," he said. "If my son was in this situation -- which he'll probably do baseball or golf -- if my son said no, would I want that coach to continue to call back. No."
- Also as a parent, O'Brien wants his son to do "whatever makes him happy. He's a great little kid but [football] is a tough sport. But if he wants to play football, I'm not going to stop him from playing football."