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Bill O’Brien Talks Scholarship Modifications On Big Ten Live

You’ve probably heard the big news by now. Coach Bill O’Brien issued a statement yesterday, but was a little more candid in an interivew with Big Ten Live later in the afternoon. O’Brien elaborated on his reaction to the news and on what the modifications mean for Penn State.

Surprisingly, Bill O’Brien says he heard the news at about the same time we all did.

“I basically found out this morning. I was just told by the higher ups here at Penn State that this news was coming down,” he said.

O’Brien went on to explain that sanction modifications weren’t really on his radar until this morning.

“I didn’t know anything about the sanctions coming,” he said. “We were basically playing under the rules which were stated last July. That’s what we were working under and then obviously this morning I was told that something was going to be announced. That’s when I really first knew that some of the scholarship restrictions would be lifted.”

While his initial reaction statement left out his personal emotions in regards to the news, his Big Ten Live interview didn’t. When he first heard about the news Bill O’Brien was happy, happy, happy.

“I was extremely happy for a few groups of people. I was happy for our staff…I was happy for our players. I think we have a resilient bunch of kids here in this program and they’ve acted the right way off the field and I believe they’ve performed admirably on the field. So, I’m very happy for them and I’m happy for the people here at Penn State. I’m happy for a lot of people today.”

He didn’t have a lot of time to think about how these scholarship modifications would change his game plan (the interview was filmed earlier in the day) but he made it clear that, with the extra time available during the bye week, he and his staff would be looking towards the future.

“We’re obviously involved in recruiting right now,” O’Brien said. “How that will evolve over the next month or weeks or next year has yet to be determined. We have a bye week so we have a little bit more time to meet on recruiting, but obviously it will affect recruiting because we can go out there and recruit more young men now. There are going to be more opportunities for more people — more football student-athletes to come to Penn State and earn a world-class degree and play great football.”

More recruiting opportunities are great, but O’Brien’s focus is still on his current team.

“It’s important for our players here that they understand now that when you do things the right way you can be rewarded. I think that’s important. I think it’s a great life lesson that we will continue to try to teach here at Penn State about being resilient and dealing with things in the proper way.”

The NCAA’s statement about the possibility of further sanction modifications was ambiguous, and was something that O’Brien was unwilling to decode.

“You’ll have to ask the NCAA what that means,” he said. “All I know is that we’re just going to go forward playing under the rules that we play under. If those rules change, we’ll change with the rules. Most importantly, here at Penn State, we will try to — every single day — do the right thing and if we make a mistake we’ll own up to it.”

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Mitchell Wilston

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