O’Brien regrets ‘Paterno people’ comments

Former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien talked about his well-publicized “Paterno people” comments Tuesday and said he regrets making those remarks, plus he spoke for the first time about his successor with the Nittany Lions.

O’Brien, a guest on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike,” opened up about several issues regarding PSU. He said he had “a ton of support at Penn State” and tried to distance himself from the “Paterno people” comments he made last month to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

O’Brien was asked if the “Paterno people” played a role in him leaving Penn State.

“Nah, that’s not accurate at all,” he said. “I felt that I had a ton of support at Penn State. My staff had a lot of support at Penn State.

“You know, I regret that that conversation even took place. I do, I regret that. But I know that I had a ton of support there. Penn State is a special place. I believe in what we did at Penn State. I think Penn State, the football program is in a better spot now than it was two years ago.”

He said his biggest takeaway from his time at PSU was coaching the players. He also was asked if he believed he eventually would leave for the NFL, and during that response he mentioned new coach James Franklin.

“I loved Penn State, I really did,” O’Brien said. “I enjoyed the players. I think it’s a very special university. I think they’ve gone and hired a fantastic coach in James Franklin.

“But there are many parts of the NFL game that I missed. And then the other thing was that I think that’s important to note was my family. When Houston came around and was interested in talking to me I just felt good about this opportunity. It was also the fact that in the city of Houston they have a great medical facility here for my oldest son. It’s just a fantastic facility. I think that’s something that meant a lot to my wife and I.”

O’Brien spoke highly of PSU’s future.

“I think that they’re going to take off,” he said. “I think Penn State is a place where you can win national championships and Big Ten championships.”