Media days, via their setup of having a bunch of reporters cram around one person, rarely lead to the release of pertinent information and especially not the release of deep insights.
Bill O'Brien, though, shared two thoughtful responses that I think Penn State fans and the nation as a whole will feel relieved to hear. Rather than spur his team to take an "us-against-the-world" mentality, he wants them accept what's happened and moved on. He doesn't want them to pretend they are anyone's enemy.
"Instead of saying it's us against them, let's go out and play good football and think about the fact that maybe this is a little bit about more than football," he said. "That this is about helping a community. This is about bringing more awareness, much more awareness to child abuse. This is about making sure that we help lead this University. Not lead it, but be a part of leading this University through the next three or four years that will be a challenge, but that's what life is about."
He expounded further a few minutes later:
"But it's time, in my opinion ‑‑ this is just my opinion ‑‑ it's time to stop the dour attitude, it's time to think about ways to help us through this. It's time to understand that we've got to move the University, the athletic department and the football team forward.
Does that 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."
Frankly, I didn't expect this. When a reporter asked him the "us-against-the-world" question I prepared myself to hear what many coaches would say. They constantly want to be the underdog, to pretend people want them to fail. And though O'Brien would like his players to understandably keep "a chip on their shoulders" on the field, it speaks to his good guidance and maturity that he would not extend that cliche to the entire situation involving Penn State.
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