CHICAGO — Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is taking the right approach when it comes to talking to Penn State players, said Bill O’Brien, the first-year coach of the scandal-ridden program.
Speaking on the “Mike and Mike Show” ESPN radio show Wednesday morning, O’Brien mentioned Ferentz as one of the coaches who had the courtesy to call before possibly discussing transfer options with Nittany Lions players searching for another program.
Syracuse’s Doug Marrone and Central Florida’s George O’Leary were others O’Brien said contacted him after the program lost scholarships and was banned from postseason competition for four years Monday by the NCAA and the Big Ten.
“Those are guys that understand the profession,” O’Brien said of Ferentz, Marrone and O’Leary.
He said other coaches talked to players without first contacting Penn State. The NCAA said schools must first contact Penn State before talking to players, who immediately can become eligible to play for other schools.
O’Brien didn’t mention names, but according to published reports, representatives from Illinois were among coaches hanging out around the Penn State football facility Wednesday. Illini spokesman Kent Brown confirmed to ESPN.com that Illinois coaches were on the Penn State campus.
Iowa media relations director Steve Roe said “to the best of my knowledge,” Iowa coaches were not headed to Penn State on Wednesday.
Penn State’s situation will dominate the two-day Big Ten Conference Media Days, which start today in Chicago. O’Brien will meet with the media, but the three Nittany Lions players expected to be here won’t attend.
Wednesday, the school notified Big Ten officials that no players will participate, while all other schools will have player representation.
“I don’t know who made the ultimate decision but keeping the players at home fosters the perception that Penn State continues to be a closed culture,” said Dennis Dodd, CBSsports.com college football columnist. “Their appearance could have gone a long way toward letting the healing begin.
“The players are sympathetic figures who could have told their stories on a national stage. They’re being left at home, ultimately because of the heinous actions by adults who are supposed to know better. This being Penn State, it’s still hard to trust those adults are making the best decision for these players.”
Penn State players left a Wednesday meeting pledging support to the program.
“We want to let the nation know that we’re proud of who we are,” senior Michael Zordich said. “We’re the true Penn Staters, and we’re going to stick together through this. We’re going to see this thing through, and we’re going to do everything we can for the university. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we know what we’re made of.”
Junior tailback Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,241 yards last season, was among the players expected to meet reporters today and Friday. Published reports say he is uncertain whether he will stay at Penn State or transfer.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football