Here are excerpts from Bill O’Brien’s news conference Monday, the first day of the spring semester at Penn State:
Q: When you go through something that goes public like talking with NFL teams is that something that goes away for the foreseeable future or does it come up again on an annual basis?
A: No, I don’t think so. I plan to be the head football coach here. I love coaching here, love living here, really enjoy the kids that I coach here. And no, no, I don’t see it that way. Again, I’m not a genie, I don’t have a crystal ball.
I have a lot of respect for that league. I love that league. Again, this is my profession. I’m a coach. And that’s the highest level, but at the same time, like I’ve said, I really, really love coaching these kids. I enjoy being the head football coach at Penn State, and I enjoy the people I work for, the people I work with, all the people I’ve met. The student body is incredible here, and I enjoy being here. And I plan to be here.
Q: What are some things you would like to see put into place that will give you, your players and your staff the best chance to succeed?
A: The best organizations in pro football are always the ones that are thinking about ways to do things differently, from year to year. Every year is different. I just met with the team here at 7 a.m., and I said, look, 2012 has been over for a couple months now, that season, and we’ve got to create a new identity.
So, we will constantly here at Penn State talk about new ways of, maybe there’s new weight lifting equipment or can I have a few more guys in the recruiting department to help (recruiting coordinator) Billy Kavanaugh with recruiting. Maybe there’s different ways to do study hall, maybe there’s different ways to help with our marketing department as it relates to football. You know, those are all things that we need to constantly be talking about at Penn State as we move year to year because we can’t just sit and stay the same, we’ve got to be creative, we’ve got to think out of the box, we’ve got to do the best job we can for our players and for our staff to make sure that we’re putting them in the best situation to get a great degree and to win football games.
Q: ESPN reported that you were not happy that you received bad information during the interview process with Penn State in regard to possible NCAA punishment. Is that true?
A: Let me clarify that: When I interviewed for the job I interviewed with a search committee here. I had a Skype interview when I was in Foxboro, and then I came on campus here, and I asked many, many questions. I think if you ask Dr. (Rodney) Erickson and Dr. (Dave) Joyner, I think one of the things that probably impressed them was the fact that I had many more questions than they actually had.
And so one of the questions I had was about the NCAA, and what was their role in this going to be, and at that time Dr. Erickson had received a letter from the NCAA in which he had to answer several questions. And they felt at that time that once they answered those questions, they would know better about what the NCAA’s role would be in this whole thing.
So it wasn’t anybody that gave me bad information. It was just nobody really knew, and so I took somewhat of a leap of faith. Penn State took a leap of faith, and I shook their hand and became the head football coach here, and that’s exactly what happened.
Q: Could you talk about how the quarterback situation shapes up heading into the spring?
A: Steven Bench will be back for us, and he’s just a great kid, a bright kid, competitive guy, a lot of energy, really a neat kid to be around. His dad was a coach down there in south Georgia, and just a neat kid to be around. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s got a lot of work to do, but really looking forward to working with him when spring practice starts.
We brought in a junior college transfer, so to speak, named Tyler Ferguson, who comes from the College of The Sequoias out there in California, and am really excited about working with him. He was a guy that we felt really was smart and productive, and had some great conversations with him, and he’s been here the last couple days, and met him and talked to him a little bit. Just really excited about him.
We have two run on guys, Austin Whipple, whose dad, Mark Whipple, is a great friend of mine, who was the quarterback coach of the Cleveland Browns, and I worked for Mark at Brown, and Austin is his youngest son, and really looking forward to working with him. And then we have a young man named D.J. Crook from Massachusetts that’s a run on that’s coming in here, and just being around those two guys the last couple days, two athletic looking guys that are ready to go to work. So we’re excited there.
Q: Can you talk about some of the players who redshirted or played some as freshmen that you are anxious to see in spring practice?
A: Obviously we can’t wait to see what Akeel Lynch does. We think he’s got a really good future for us. Go to the tight end position, Brent Wilkerson really impressed us on the practice field. The thing with those guys now is you’re going from reading a card to actually having to learn the system. You can look at a card in the Dirty Show (scout team), and they say, “Run this curl at 14 yards” and you run the curl. Now it’s about going out there and learning the system and doing it. We’re looking forward to seeing how those guys adapt to it and get going. Geno Lewis, Malik Golden at the receiver position, really looking forward to watching those guys, watching what they do. Offensive line, we’ve got a couple guys there, Wendy Laurent, looking forward to seeing him, what he does.
Defensively, a guy like Austin Johnson, really think he’s got a great future for us. Nyeem Wartman, even though he played a little bit and was injured, really think he’s got a great future for us. Secondary-wise, Da’Quan Davis, looking forward to seeing how he improves after year one here. I could go right down the list for you, but there’s a lot of good young talent in this program that we think bodes well for the future, and now we just can’t wait to get out there and start coaching them.
– Scott Brown