In announcing the sanctions, the NCAA also said that Penn State players could transfer and be eligible to compete immediately. Rival schools are permitted to go to Penn State and meet with players who might be interested in transferring. So, there's nothing technically wrong with what other schools are doing, unless maybe you're delving into morals.
But hey, it's every vulture for themselves out there.
"I've said my piece on TV [on Wednesday]," O'Brien reiterated Thursday at the Big Ten's annual mediafest, which concludes Friday. "The rules are what they are. They can do what they want, as long as they tell our compliance office. So it is what it is …
“I have no idea [concerning various reports of what might be going on], nor do I care. That's about all I have to say on that …
“Nothing surprises me."
He said he hadn't talked with first-year Illinois coach Tim Beckman who, according to reports, might have been one of the more active participants. O'Brien also offered an emphatic "no" to a question concerning the potential loss of Silas Redd to Southern Cal, which, of course, could always use some more talent. According to ESPN, the running back met with USC for several hours Wednesday in Connecticut. Which might explain why he wasn't one of the three players O'Brien finally decided to bring to Chicago with him, as originally scheduled.
But back to Beckman. Saying he's a "proactive guy," he began his 15-minute stint at the podium by "attacking" the PSU situation.
"I want everyone to understand," he began. "We as a staff talked about this, when it was brought to our attention by two individuals prior to any sanctions even being granted. We thought an opportunity might present itself. We did not go onto their campus. We only talked to individuals who were willing to talk to us. They came to us, to speak with us. That's how we handled it.
“We were in State College, not on campus, at two establishments outside campus. We called some individuals. If they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to do so."
Beckman said he'd spoken with O'Brien, but not "in depth." He also said PSU athletic director Dave Joyner had been contacted.
"That's as far as we're going to go. I don't know [O'Brien] personally … We were just following the rules of the NCAA. We provided Penn State with names, prior to going there. We gave them a list, so they were aware of the individuals we might be [interested in]."
Maybe it's not his fault. He didn't create the situation. But somehow it just doesn't survive the smell test.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said his staff discussed things, too. They came to the decision not to "reach out" to anyone, citing the general respect between Big Ten "brothers." Nonetheless …
"I'm not casting doubt or anybody or questioning anything," he said. "Obviously it's a very unprecedented situation. You have a lot of different opinions. To bring someone in at this point, so close to the season, I just wasn't comfortable with it."
His team closes the season in Happy Valley.
"Until then, I'm going to be the biggest Penn State fan," he said. "for the guys who stayed there and stick it through."
Urban Meyer, who's now the guy in charge at Ohio State, also had "a problem with it."
"I don't know enough about it," he said. "A player has the right to choose, especially by the rules, to go where he wants to go. We have to keep that in mind. To actively go get a player on another team, I'm not sure. I don't look into it. When he's part of a team, you're getting into a situation that I'm not quite familiar with.
“And we're not going to get very familiar with it."
Amen. By the way, the Lions open their Big Ten season, their first without Joe Paterno in forever, on Sept. 29 at Illinois. Could be interesting.
For now the final word goes to senior linebacker Michael Mauti, a son of a former player who was contacted by a bunch of other schools in the last few days.
"For me, if you're going to sit here and wish our program well," he offered, "and then try to pull the legs out from under us by taking our kids, while you are playing [by] the rules, well, there really are no rules, then I've got a problem with that. And if you're a competitor, I've got a problem with that, too. That's all I can say about that."
Kind of says it all.
Contact Mike Kern at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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