O'Brien downplays national coach of the year talk

Associated Press Modified: October 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm •  Published: October 9, 2012
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A reduction in scholarships and a four-year postseason ban are among the sanctions, so potentially crippling that some critics — some of the same ones pushing O'Brien for top coaching honors — have suggested they were worse than shutting down football entirely for at least a season.

O'Brien never believed it. He knew that playing a full slate was always a better alternative than sitting on the sidelines, even when they were 0-2.

So far, he's right, even as the pressure never lets up.

"It's kind of like drinking water from a fire hose," O'Brien said. "Something happens new every day. You have to budget your time and do the best that you can. We have a great staff here, a veteran staff that has done an excellent job of coaching these kids, and that really helps when you're a brand new head coach.

"It helps to have a great staff."

The sordid Sandusky case has caused such grief for the program over the last 11 months, that not even a winning record and victories over nationally ranked teams could begin to make a dent on the black cloud that hovers over campus. Don't forget, O'Brien might not even have a full roster until 2020.

But while tough times certainly loom in Happy Valley, for this week, for the now, there is every reason for the Nittany Lions to feel good about the season's first two months.

And as much he downplays his impact, O'Brien can take credit for the solid start.

"I knew that we had a really tough, resilient group of players and a good coaching staff," he said. "It had nothing to do with me. It's about the players and coaching staff here doing a good job of coming together and playing well."



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