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PSU's O'Brien: Team will stay together

Penn State players are ready to move forward, says coach Bill O'Brien.
Penn State players are ready to move forward, says coach Bill O'Brien.
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CHICAGO (AP)

Bill O'Brien is looking straight ahead. It's the only choice he really has at Penn State.

The questions keep coming and he doesn't flinch: How will he handle what has become one of the most difficult jobs in college football? How about other schools trying to lure his players away? How can he make do with reduced scholarships and no bowl appearances the next four years?

''The measure of a man is how you overcome adversity,'' O'Brien said Thursday at the Big Ten media day where the majority of questions centered on the plight of the Nittany Lions in wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The NCAA delivered crushing sanctions to the program earlier this week and now the Nittany Lions have to get ready for a season where victories will be secondary to the heart they show on the field.

''I talked to them about - without a shadow of a doubt - they're going to be able to play six to seven bowl games per year in front of 108,000 screaming fans in Beaver Stadium and I expect it to be 108,000 fans in Beaver Stadium,'' O'Brien said.

It's time, he said, to move on.

''The sanctions are what they are. It's time to get up and get going,'' O'Brien said. He added he didn't know of any player who is planning to transfer from Penn State at the current time but doesn't anticipate losing any core players. Only time will tell there.

He also said didn't know which schools had visited State College to see if any of his players would be interested in leaving, although representatives from Illinois were in town earlier in the week.

''I have no idea which schools were on campus, nor do I care,'' O'Brien said.

Buzz has centered on the possible departure of Silas Redd, an incoming junior tailback who earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season while rushing for 1,241 yards.

Senior Nittany Lions linebacker Michael Mauti said the university community has rallied around the team.

''I know people are behind us, I know the whole school's behind us, the Penn State family,'' he said.

''I've had at least 50 emails, 100 text messages, phone calls from everybody, alumni, players who played here in the '60s, 70s, 90s and active guys on rosters in the NFL. The heads of departments - psychology, education. There's no doubt in my mind that there's a huge, huge, support base for us and when I get messages like that I put them up in my locker room for everyone to see and together to know that we do have that kind of support.''

Penn State players were expected to skip the media session but a reverse was called and they were represented at the hotel near Soldier Field.

''We've got a very strong senior class this year and they've done a great job with leadership,'' junior guard John Urschell said. ''After all these sanctions came out, they've done a great job setting a precedent for the rest of the team, sticking together and showing that we're going to keep our core football team.''

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Commissioner Jim Delany spoke with league coaches.

''We're trying to put an override on this that allows an athlete as much opportunity as the rules allow, that allows for collegial relationships between our schools to be done in the right way,'' Delany said.

''It also puts the athletes and the coaches to interface if that's what they want to do. But I think it should be focused that there's an opportunity there for a school and a player, that's great, if not, they should move on. That's my view.''

Tagged: Penn State, Bill O'Brien

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