"It's about time, because somebody's got to stand up for us and let the people know what's going on," Mauti said. "The public doesn't see what's going on inside our walls, inside the Lasch Building. They don't know us. We had nothing to do with [the scandal], just like they didn't have anything to do with it.
"I was watching Barney when that happened, man. You don't know us. Our freshmen were like 6 years old. Obviously, we're upset. But at the same time - hey - these are the new rules we've got to play under, and we're going to play under them, and we're going to succeed under them, and we're going to fight that.
"This is our opportunity to create our new legacy, really. Not one man, no politician, no sanction is going to tear our team apart. This is no way, no way."
Mauti said that since Monday's announcement of the sanctions, he has gotten "fired up."
"To say that my degree means less because of what happened, no way, not a chance," he said. "The Penn State family is starting to realize that. It really has nothing to do with us, but at the same time, this is our opportunity to face that adversity and say, 'Listen, we're sticking together, and we're going to use this as fuel, and every game is going to be a bowl game.' "
O'Brien said Wednesday that the three players - defensive tackle Jordan Hill, guard John Urschel, and running back Silas Redd - scheduled to appear at the Big Ten event would not be coming. However, early Thursday he summoned Hill and Urschel here and had Mauti replace Redd, who is considering a transfer to Southern California.
"These guys had expressed an interest in going home and talking to their families about everything that's going on," O'Brien said. "How could I deny them a chance to be able to do that? So I felt talking to their families might be a little bit more important than going to Big Ten meetings, with all due respect to the Big Ten. But these guys decided to come, and I felt it was the right decision."
Redd spent the day at his Connecticut home, where he and his family met with USC coach Lane Kiffin. His father, Silas Sr., later denied a report that his son had made a commitment to Kiffin, according to several reports.
Hill, who is one of Redd's roommates, said it was necessary for him to go home and try to sort this out.
"I definitely see it's killing him, because he wants to make a decision," Hill said. "He knows everything that's going on. He knows what he means to the team. You never want to put yourself above the team, but in certain cases you have to do what's best for yourself."
He said there will be no hard feelings if Redd decides to leave.
"No matter where you go, you're still going to be at my wedding," Hill said. "You're still going to be my boy, and I will support you 100 percent."
Mauti said the entire starting defense, which includes end Pete Massaro (Marple Newtown) and linebacker Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro), has committed to returning. Urschel said the same is true of the starting offensive line.
Urschel and Mauti said they have had several meetings with unsure underclassmen. Penn State begins a four-year ban on bowl games and the Big Ten Conference championship game this season, and scholarships will be reduced from 25 to 15 a year beginning in 2013, with a maximum of 65 scholarship players allowed starting with the 2014 team.
"I've spoken to a number of guys," Urschel said. "I can't make their decision for them, and I can't tell them what to do. I just tell them to really think about what's important and not to make this decision too quickly and to really think about what we have here at Penn State and what Penn State can offer them."
Preseason practice starts Aug. 6, but Mauti said no deadlines were being placed on the undecideds.