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PSU might play at Hawaii; players issue passionate statements

LB Mauti: 'This program was not built by one man, and this program sure as hell is not going to get torn down by one man'

July 25, 2012
By Cory Giger, , The Altoona Mirror

Penn State is looking into the possibility of ending the regular season with a game at Hawaii, coach Bill O'Brien said, which would serve as a de facto bowl game reward trip for the players since the program is ineligible to compete in bowls for four years.

O'Brien did multiple interviews on ESPN programs Wednesday morning and mentioned the Hawaii scenario. He said on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" that a game at Hawaii could "act as our bowl game at the end of the year."

It would not be an unprecedented move for a program facing a bowl ban to schedule end-of-the-season games at Hawaii. Alabama did that in 2002 and '03.

The NCAA regular season consists of 12 games, but there are stipulations that allow for an extra game in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico.

Penn State's final regular-season game this year is scheduled for Nov. 24 against Wisconsin. Hawaii's final game is Dec. 1, so if the Nittany Lions are to travel there, it likely would be Dec. 8.

SUBHD: Players show unity

Fact Box

Statement from Penn State team

Linebacker Michael Mauti and running back Michael Zordich spoke individually on behalf of the team Wednesday, and later this official statement was released on behalf of the PSU players:

This team is sticking together. We aren't going anywhere. And we could not be more proud to be Penn Staters now. We look at this as a great opportunity to have the ability to bring back not only a team but an entire university.

This team has taken on more adversity than any team has faced in history which is a testament to our commitment to our teams character, our fans, and our university. One man didn't build this program and one man sure as hell cannot tear it down. This program was built on the backs of the thousands of great men who put on the Penn State uniform. Today it is no different.

No sanction or politician can tear this team apart. No one can take away what this university means to us. We will stick together and create our own legacy. Our loyalty lies only with our teammates, coaches, fans and families. No one else.

It's not going to be easy but we know that we have acquired the strength that we have overcome and we will embrace our anger and burn it as fuel this season.

We can't wait for September 1 and to be back in Beaver Stadium and playing for Penn State in front of the best fans in the nation. We ask everyone to come out, show the support, wear your colors proudly and show that adversity makes the Penn State nation tougher and stronger.

Thank you.

About 30 PSU players gathered Wednesday morning to express their unity in the team and the university in the wake of the NCAA sanctions.

Senior linebacker Michael Mauti and senior running back Michael Zordich served as the spokesmen for the team, and each issued passionate comments on behalf of the squad.

"We take this as an opportunity to create our own legacy," Mauti said. "This program was not built by one man, and this program sure as hell is not going to get torn down by one man. This program was built on every alumni, every single player that came before us, built on their backs. And we're going to take that right now. This is our opportunity to do that."

Mauti later said, "No sanction, no politician is ever going to take away what we've got here."

"None of that's ever going to tear us apart," Mauti added. "Right now, all we can do, we can put our heads down, and we're just going to work. That's all we can do. We're going to play for Penn State, we're going to fight for each other because this is what Penn State's about -- fighting through adversity. And we're going to show up every Saturday and we're going to raise hell."

Being a Penn Stater means something extra for Mauti and Zordich, both of whom are legacy players as their fathers also played for the Lions.

"We want to let the nation know that we're proud of who we are," Zordich said. "We're the true Penn Staters. 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. We know that through this ride there's going to be tough times ahead. But we know what our coaches are made of, and we know what the university is made of and we're ready and willing to fight and stick together to get through this thing to the end.

"As a team, we don't see this as a punishment. This is an opportunity. This is the greatest opportunity a Penn Stater could ever be given. We have an obligation to Penn State, and we have the ability to fight for not just a team, not just a program, but an entire university and every man that wore the blue and white on that gridiron before us. We're going to embrace this opportunity, and we're going to make something very special happen in 2012."

Zordich said the football players suit up for their teammates, the fans, the students and "all the families of Nittany Nation," and he added the players will do everything they can "to make them proud, and we're going to do everything in our power to get this place back on track."

Zordich also had a message for all Penn State fans.

"I'm personally calling out every member of Nittany Nation -- all the students, faculty, fans and family members, alumni, everybody that there is, please, please come support us through this because we need you just as much as you need us, and together we're going to get through this thing to the end," he said.

SUBHD: O'Brien contract update

O'Brien signed a five-year contract, but he told ESPN that his contract has an addendum that adds extra years to it. It's now unclear exactly how many years he has on the contract, but O'Brien said he remains committed to Penn State.

The coach also said he's held frequent meetings with the players and had a 1 hour, 15 minute conference call with the players' parents Tuesday night.

SUBHD: Players not going to Chicago

Penn State announced Wednesday afternoon that no players would be attending Big Ten media days in Chicago on Thursday and Friday.

Running back Silas Redd, defensive lineman Jordan Hill and offensive lineman John Urschel had been scheduled to represent Penn State.

Redd, who is being heavily recruited by USC and other schools, was not present at the PSU team statement gathering Wednesday morning.

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