O'Brien said he doesn't focus on what's going on outside the football program. But he apparently hears enough to feel a need for people to unify and look ahead.
"This is a special place," he said. "Now we all have to come together and realize why we're in the position we're in. We have to. We've got to stop arguing about it. We've got to move forward."
The first-year coach said he respects the rights of individuals and groups "to do what they have to do.
"I will never step into the middle of that; that's not what I want to do," he said. "I'm here to be the football coach. But I've got to make sure that our football team does a great job of coming together, playing as good a football as they can play, and then involving ourselves in the community in many ways because we've got to move forward.
"That's my goal with this football team, and hopefully that helps the university."
O'Brien added that he had not reached out with his message to any individual or to the board of trustees.
"No, I'm just a football coach," he said. "This is just my opinion, and I think it's all a part of staying on message and making sure that guys stay together and the university stays together and we move the thing forward. Let's get going."
O'Brien also is of the opinion that a change of approach is in order. He said his team has a lot of fun on the field while being "very mindful of what happened here," and suggested that the university community end what he called "the dour attitude."
"It's time to think about ways to help us through this," he said. "It's time to understand that we've got to move the university, the athletic department, and the football team forward.
"Does this mean we're going to go on a 36-game winning streak? I don't know. We're going to go out every day and try to compete and win and do the best we can. But we've got to be positive about this university. We've got to be positive about this athletic program."
O'Brien is in a "moving-forward" mode himself. In the week before Monday's start of training camp, he lost nine players who transferred out - the most notable being running back Silas Redd, wide receiver Justin Brown, and punter/kicker Anthony Fera - as a result of the ban on competing for championships and the postseason.
O'Brien said he didn't allow the uncertainty to get to him and that he expects the group he now has to remain together all season.
"I try not to live in the world of uncertainty," he said. "I try to take it day by day, situation by situation. I felt very good about our staff and our relationships with our players. I definitely felt like there was a trust there. I knew that there would probably be some guys that left, and I respect those decisions."
O'Brien also addressed the uniform change that will add a blue ribbon and the players' names on the backs, saying he was "very respectful" of the Penn State football tradition but that "it's a new era in many ways."
As for the added names, he said he wanted people "to recognize the fact these are kids that are, in my opinion, special competitive kids" because they've stuck with the Nittany Lions through tough times.
He said he also wants people to know that his players "are going to reach out to the community and help lead this university through the next few years in many different ways in the community." He was speaking of Special Olympics, the THON charity event, and child-abuse organizations.
"To me, the most important patch on that uniform is that blue ribbon that will signify putting an end to child abuse," O'Brien said.
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