Bill O’Brien was, of course, the main event at the Coaches Caravan, and most of the press were there to speak to him, not just about football but about Penn State and his impressions and fit at the university. He also fielded questions geared towards local audiences, about a potential future rivalry with local team Maryland.
On how the expansion will impact recruiting:
Well, we've always recruited this area. We have 11 guys on our football team right now from the Baltimore/DC area, so we're established here and we're looking forward to continuing to recruit here. Obviously with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers we feel that the conference is that much more competitive. I think it's great for college football, it's great for the fans--Penn State used to play Maryland back in the day… It won't change much for us because we'll still have a presence recruiting here and we've enjoyed a lot of successful players at Penn State from this area.
On the new B1G divisions, and the concept of a "Murderer’s Row":
I think every team is a competitive team. Last time I checked, Rutgers had a top-5 defense in the country, Maryland has a history of winning--when I coached at Maryland I think we were 10-3 one year--so I think it's going to be a very difficult conference. I think all the teams are competitive--it's a very difficult conference to play in and coach in.
Onto actual football…on any potential defensive scheme changes under new coordinator John Butler:
We're going to do some things differently on that side of the ball that we tried in the spring--I'm not going to get into the details of that. We feel good about where we are defensively. John is an excellent coach. We've got a really strong staff over there with Ron [Vanderlinden] and Larry [Johnson Sr] and the addition of Anthony Midget. We feel good where we're at…you'll have to wait and see for Syracuse to see what the changes are.
On Syracuse, and anything to look for versus them:
They're an excellent football team. They return a lot of players and they have a great head coach in Coach Schaffer. I'll probably start watching them when I get back off the bus tour, but they're a difficult team on both sides of the ball. They've got a lot of returning players and it's going to be a tough challenge.
On the QB situation in the summer:
We are going to approach it by making sure that both guys get a bunch of reps in training camp. We'll have Tyler Ferguson who's already been here since January and who's gotten a bunch of reps in spring practice and then we'll add Christian Hackenberg to the mix. Christian will be here in June for summer orientation program so he'll begin to workout with the team--and that's a good thing. We'll give both those guys the reps. And you'd have to say that, probably, Tyler would be a little bit ahead of Christian if only for the fact that he's been here since January and he's had 15 spring practices. But those two guys will compete for the job.
Some highlights of O’Brien’s portion of the actual caravan event, for those of you not on twitter:
He says his mom called him four times after the Wisconsin game to yell at him about his language on national tv. #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
O'Brien says these three coaches are the ones at PSU he knows the best. Can't praises Chambers especially enough. #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
O'Brien says he's so appreciative and overwhelmed by the passionate support. Asks for more. "Yes, I'm asking for money." #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
BOB says Meyer said, last year at the coaches meetings, PSU has the best night game atmosphere in the B1G.#psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
He says that anything he can say won't be as important as two words: WE ARE #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
"The success of our sudents, now and years from now" is what's most important. #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
Says the university needs to remain proud of its athleic department. PSU is "way bigger than football". #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
BOB calls for unity. "Others expect us to be down...we don't need to be and we won't be. We're better than that." #psucaravan— BSD (@BSDtweet) May 2, 2013
Up next (later today): women's basketball coach Coquese Washington.
Also, special shoutout to Chad who helped me by transcribing a lot of my interviews. Thanks! And you're awesome.