PSU coach says hazing not part of his program

A capsule look at Bill O’Brien’s weekly news conference

Opponent: Minnesota (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten)

Kickoff: Saturday noon, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis


About the Golden Gophers: They’re on a roll, having won three straight league games against Northwestern (20-17), Nebraska (34-23) and Indiana (42-39); rank 116th in nation in passing yards per game with only 145, but they’re 20th in rushing at 221 yards per game; coach Jerry Kill, who has epilepsy, has not been in charge of day-to-day operations after suffering a seizure before a game against Michigan Oct. 5; defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys is the Gophers’ acting head coach.

Zero-tolerance for hazing, bullying: It’s been the biggest topic in football this week in the wake of the Richie Incognito situation in Miami, and O’Brien was asked about his policies on those matters. “We don’t allow any hazing at Penn State,” he said. “I’d say if anybody gets hazed, it’s the coaches. The players bust our chops. But no, we take that very seriously. That’s not something that we – we definitely address it right away, and we do not allow it.”

College vs. NFL hazing mentality: O’Brien also was asked about the differences in hazing between college and the NFL. “Working in New England, we had a very professional locker room with a lot of great guys in it, great coaching staff and fantastic ownership,” he said. “So things like that, they never happened in New England. So I think there is a big difference there between pro and college football. I think college football is about getting an education, playing as good of football as you can on the field, and young guys earning their stripes on the practice field, that’s what it’s about. Not earning their stripes by getting their heads shaved. We don’t do that at Penn State.”

Support for Jerry Kill: Minnesota’s coach has had a history with epileptic seizures, suffering them on game day five times in his career. He has come back quickly in the past, but after the one against Michigan a month ago he has handed over control of the team for the meantime. “I have a ton of respect for Jerry,” O’Brien said. “I feel bad for what he’s had to go through. I called him two weeks ago and spoke to him on the phone to see how he’s doing. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit at the Big Ten meetings and things like that. Great guy.”

Deferring dilemma: It was strange that O’Brien, after winning the coin toss at Ohio State, decided to defer getting the ball until the second half because the Buckeyes’ offense is so good. He did it again against Illinois. An offensive-minded coach, O’Brien showed a tendency to take the ball first until recent weeks. “That changes week to week,” he said. “We talk about that as a staff. It’s a game to game decision that we do. It’s based on the weather. It’s based on the sun here in Beaver Stadium, where the sun is. I know it sounds crazy, but based on things we want to do on special teams in the beginning of the game and the throwing game. It’s based on the other team and their offense. So there are a lot of factors.”

Redshirt philosophy: Penn State doesn’t have this luxury because of scholarship reductions, but O’Brien said, “Ideally you’d like to redshirt everybody. I think it’s very difficult to play as a true freshman when you’re trying to figure out your class schedule and all the different things that go on your freshman year. Now, with the situation that we’re in right now, that’s really impossible to do.”

Tuned in to Twitter: Several reporters on the PSU beat tweet the newsworthy and interesting things O’Brien says on his weekly radio show on Thursdays. The coach seems to think that’s odd and joked about it by saying, “You guys Tweet every line from the radio show. Why do they do that?”