Part of the evolution of Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal — whatever that is, whatever it will be — happened the night of Jan. 7, 2012, when Bill O’Brien was named as Paterno’s replacement, the Nittany Lions’ first new football coach in 46 seasons. That night, O’Brien met his team for the first time. Afterward, a senior linebacker came forward to introduce himself. And at that moment, Michael Mauti told the new coach about how the weight room needed to be overhauled. He wondered about the offseason lifting program.
“Who was that kid?” O’Brien asked someone on the way out.
Over the summer, after the NCAA used the Freeh report to ban the Nittany Lions from bowl games for four years and limit their scholarships from 2013 to ’17 — among other crippling sanctions — O’Brien found out. Twenty-two Nittany Lions will exhaust their college eligibility after the Nov. 24 game against Wisconsin. On the morning of July 23, that group of seniors watched NCAA President Mark Emmert announce the penalties against Penn State. Some players threw things against the wall. Nearly all voiced their frustration.