Bill O’Brien coach of the year? No doubt.
The notion that Penn State wouldn’t field a competitive team after the NCAA hit the football team with severe sanctions? Absurd.
The difference between the two teams that will meet Saturday in the unofficial Probation Bowl? Penn State’s players had nothing to do with why the NCAA hammered the football program in July.
Those are the opinions of Penn State outside linebacker Michael Mauti, who can be just as direct off the football field as he is on it.
Mauti was asked Tuesday during a teleconference about so-called experts who said Penn State would have been better off had the NCAA just shut down the program for a year instead of handing down the crippling sanctions.
“To me that’s pretty much a joke and totally disrespectful in my opinion,” said Mauti, who will lead 5-2 Penn State against 8-0 Ohio State at Beaver Stadium. “I really don’t know who was making those kinds of decisions. I think it’s better for me to keep my mouth shut on that one.”
Mauti did offer his opinion when asked if he had any sympathy for Ohio State, which, like Penn State, is not eligible for postseason play this season.
“They’re both a little bit different,” Mauti said. “We didn’t do anything to get our sanctions as a team. We didn’t cheat. I’m not saying they’re cheaters and we have a lot of respect for Ohio State, it’s a great program. But we’re unrelated to the reasoning behind our program getting sanctioned.”
Mauti, who has played like a first-team All-American, said he does not pay attention to individual awards. He did say that O’Brien should get recognized as coach of the year even though there are still five games left in the season.
“There’s no question in my mind,” Mauti said.
– Scott Brown