"I don't have one regret about coming here," O'Brien told the Boston Herald.
A former assistant with the New England Patriots, O'Brien offers a bit of brightness to the program after perhaps its darkest chapter.
He told the Boston Herald he knew what he was walking into when he agreed to replace Joe Paterno as head coach of the Nittany Lions. It wasn't an easy task considering the legendary status of Paterno in State College, even after he was fired in disgrace after 45 years with the program. For a university still coming to grips with the sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, O'Brien won't run away from the issue, but he's doing his best to make sure people know the scandal happened under the old staff, not the new one.
"We bring our own children to practice," O'Brien said. "The coaches' wives come to practice. Sometimes they may need ear plugs, but if we say we're a family we've got to act like one."
This spin towards a family standard might be a necessary step given that at least one incident of Sandusky's abuse occurred on athletic department property on the campus of Penn State. He can't ignore what happened a decade ago or that Sandusky and the coverup will forever taint the legacy of Paterno and perhaps the program, but O'Brien is doing his best to show a different side of the program - a side that won't make excuses but is still very much grappling with its past as it cautiously eyes the future.
"I was amazed by the passion they have for the place regardless of what's gone on," O'Brien said. "No one here is in denial, but we weren't here. All I can say is we'll always care about children and pay attention to them. We just ran a football camp with over 700 kids. Kids think about the future. So do football coaches. There are issues that have to be dealt with but for us, it's time to move forward."
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- Joe Paterno
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