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Bill O’Brien on whether he’d be recruiting players from Penn State: ‘Hell no!’

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

As players continue to exit Penn State after the NCAA handed down extreme sanctions, coach Bill O'Brien had some choice words for coaches who were poaching from his program.

After the NCAA slammed the Nittany Lions with a four-year postseason ban and scholarship losses, NCAA president Mark Emmert also announced that any player who wished to transfer from Penn State could do so without penalty and be eligible to play immediately. Since that announcement, coaches have descended upon Penn State like vultures picking out the good pieces.

On Wednesday, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia asked O'Brien in a one-on-one interview if he would have poached from Penn State if he had been at another school.

"Hell no!" O'Brien said. "That's not the right thing to do in my opinion. So I wouldn't do that."

O'Brien said his emotions about other coaches doesn't stem from his ability to do his job, but from doing the right thing.

"I'm not fighting for my career, I'm fighting for Penn State," O'Brien said. "For what's right about this football program and so at the end of the day, like I said, these coaches are playing by the rules. That's what they're doing."

As of Thursday morning, seven players had transferred — QB Rob Bolden (LSU), RB Silas Redd (USC), LB Khairi Fortt (Cal), TE Kevin Haplea (Florida State), S Tim Buckley (N.C. Sate), K Anthony Fera (Texas), DT Jamil Pollard (Rutgers) — and several others were still weighing their options.

O'Brien said he's trying not to dwell on the issues that put Penn State in this position, but convince players that they made a commitment to the program and their teammates to stick it out. So far, the easiest players to convince have been the seniors, who announced they are staying to finish their careers as Nittany Lions.

"The sanctions are what they are," O'Brien said. "They're there for a reason, and then we move to the positives. You can't look back on and you can't dwell on what the sanctions are. You know what they are. These are the rules with which we play under now. And so what are the positives? There are still many, many positives. People talk about the negatives all the time and I understand that. That's there job in some ways. We talk about the positives. Playing together, playing on TV, playing in front of 108,000 fans."

O'Brien didn't want to harp on his role in this or his feelings about it. He said several of his NFL friends have reached out with advice and he's eager to start the season, though he wouldn't speak beyond 2012.

"I'm happy to be here," O'Brien said. "This is a special head coaching job. I'm committed to the 2012 team and I'm definitely happy to be their head football coach and proud to be their head football coach."

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