Penn State coach doesn’t hold grudge against Illinois for transfer players’ recruiting
A four year ban on bowl and loss of several scholarships provides enough of a reason to stunt the growth of any program and tarnish any hopes of success after an open season was declared on Nittany Lions players following NCAA’s relief allowing Penn State players to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year.
Illinois had been one of the most active faces recruiting the Nittany Lions players in wake of the NCAA sanctions, but Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is ready to forget the incident. However, Bill O’Brien revealed that Penn State (2-2) was looking forward facing and possibly defeating Illinois (2-2) as a continuation to the Nittnay Lions’ recent success, including the summer 2010 win over Temple last week.
"It takes a lot to bother me," Bill O’Brien stated regarding the impact of transfers on the Penn State. "So I would tell you that – again – our players, myself, our staff, we're very focused on the task at hand, which is practice today."
Several Illinois coaches hung out at Penn State’s campus to sniff out players willing to transfer and start afresh. Bill O’Brien insisted that the transfers served as motivation for the Penn State players to prove themselves and the integrity of the program. Penn State’s match up also highlights the fact that Illinois is the only member of the Big Ten conference that didn’t steal recruits from the Nittany Lions.
"I think we were really mad about it when it happened…(But) we've gotten over it,” Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill stated regarding the recruiting scene. “It wasn't like (Illinois) were the only people who contacted us."
Illinois were only able to land one former recruit, redshirt offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki, with the biggest loss being the transfer of Nittany Lions tailback Silas Redd to USC.
However, Penn State senior linebacker Michael Mauti doesn’t share his coach’ sentiments and reacted more strongly to Illinois’ recruiting of Nittany Lions players.
"If you're from our conference and you're going to try and steal our players and then wish us well,” Michael Mauti stated in July, during the Big Ten media days, “then I got a serious problem with that.”
Michael Mauti and Nittany Lions senior running back Michael Zordich had led a group of players to reiterate their commitment to Penn State prior to the start of college season. In the end, Penn State was able to retain at least 90 percent of the team.
"As a team, we're, overall, just looking at (Saturday's game) as the Big Ten opener,” stated Michael Zordich. “This is what we've been working for."
Illinois coach Tim Beckman stood by the team’s recruiting of transferring Penn State players, and identified football as a “game of opportunity.” However, Tim Beckman wasn’t a fan of the circumstances under which the transfers were carried through.
"I regret that it ended up being this much and it is still talked about,” said Tim Beckman, “but it gave a young man an opportunity."