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Bill O’Brien on ESPN Radio: ‘Not accurate at all’ that lack of support drove him away from PSU


Bill O’Brien was on at least two high-profile national radio shows Tuesday, and his thoughts about Penn State were prominent in the interviews with “Mike & Mike” on ESPN Radio and Jim Rome of CBS Sports Radio.


During he ESPN appearance, almost the entire first half of a nearly eight-minute interview was specifically about Penn State. I have that transcribed below. O’Brien also talked to Jim Rome. He said similar things on both shows, so I won’t type that all out. Just a couple highlights at the bottom.


Of course he went on to answer questions about his new gig with the NFL’s Houston Texans. But the way that the Penn State answers went first make you wonder — and I’m speculating here; maybe I’m way off — if this was O’Brien’s concerted effort to “make good” with the Penn State community.



(Asked what his biggest takeaway is from his time at Penn State)

I’d say the biggest takeaway was the players. I really enjoyed coaching those players; they were great kids. They practiced hard, they played hard and they meant a lot to our staff and to myself at Penn State.


(Asked if he always wanted to go back to NFL?)

I loved Penn State, Mike, I really did. I enjoyed the players. I think it’s a very special university. I think they’ve gone and hired a fantastic coach in James Franklin, but there were many parts of the NFL game that I missed and then the other thing that is important to note is my family. When Houston came around and was interested in talking to me and I met the McNairs and I met Rick Smith, I just felt good about this opportunity. It was also the fact that in the city of Houston they have a great medical facility here for my oldest son. It’s just a fantastic facility and I think that’s something that meant a lot to my wife and I, and the McNairs really  helped us with that and talked to us a lot about that. And obviously, the opportunity to come here and be the head coach of an organization that to me is a first class organization had a lot to do with it, obviously.


(Asked if Paterno supporters played a factor in leaving, as a Harrisburg Patriot-News reported asserted in citing month-old quotes from O’Brien)

No, that’s not accurate at all. I felt that I had a ton of support at Penn State and my staff had a lot of support at Penn State. I regret that that conversation even took place; I regret that, I do. I know that I ton a ton of support there. Penn State is a special place I believe in what we did at Penn State. I think Penn State, the football program is in a better spot now than it was two years ago. I think our staff, myself, ourplayers are very proud of that, and I think they’re going to take off. I think that Penn State is a place where you can win national championships, and Big Ten championships, so I felt really good about the support I had there, and I apologize to anybody that took that conversation, obviously, the wrong way. I regret that conversation – but again, Penn State is a special place, and they’re going to be in great shape in the coming years.



Later in the day Tuesday, O’Brien was on Jim Rome’s show on CBS Sports Radio. He answered four questions about Penn State — again, roughly half of an almost nine-minute interview. I won’t type out all of it (too much more important stuff to do), but O’Brien says much of the same positive things about PSU and his former players as he did on ESPN Radio. He said he attempted to reach every player and recruit before word leaked that he was leaving and that some weren’t happy but that overall they were supportive.


Here is the part about the Harrisburg Patriot-News column:


I can tell you, No. 1, is I feel bad about that conversation. I regret that conversation. I felt that we always had support at Penn State, especially from the student body. The student body was fantastic there, and there were so many nice people in that community that were supportive of the football program and our team and our family. I feel bad about that conversation. I apologize to people about that conversation and I wish it never happened but it did and I’ll leave it at that. I know that Penn State is a very special place and they just hired an excellent football coach in James Franklin.




Meanwhile, four Penn State players were made available to the media today for the first time since O’Brien left. In Wednesday’s Trib, we’ll hear from them — on O’Brien, on new coach James Franklin, on departing assistant coach Larry Johnson and on all the craziness of the past three weeks through their eyes. Pittsburgh area standouts Miles Dieffenbach and Mike Hull are among those who talked.



Enjoy the day!


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Author: Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski joined Trib Total Media's Steelers coverage team in 2014 after spending two seasons on the Penn State football beat for the Trib. Before that, he had worked in Pittsburgh sports media for more than a decade, extensively covering the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt, Duquesne and the WPIAL.

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