A New Era

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Despite issuing a joint statement late Sunday on the scandal at Penn State, ACC head football coaches faced dozens of questions on Monday about the scandal, Joe Paterno and the sanctions levied against the school's football program.

For Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani and Miami head coach Al Golden, two coaches with especially close ties to Penn State football, the topic was the elephant in the room during Monday afternoon's interview sessions.

Tom O'Brien was blunt in his assessment of the scandal, saying that words can't express the gravity of the situation in State College.

"I believe (Joe Paterno) has already been judged by somebody that I believe will do the judging for all of us," he said. "And maybe I just leave it that. I'm not going to even try to get into that realm, it's over with one way or another."

As for the penalties, which included a $60 million fine payable in the next five years, a four-year postseason ban, the loss of all wins from 1998 to 2011, the loss of 20 scholarships and five years' probation, O'Brien said the NCAA took college football into a "new era."

"We're in a new era, obviously," he sad. "One of the things the NCAA did when they came to our meetings was they showed what penalties in the past were and what penalties were going to be in the future, and the penalties in the future were multiple times what the penalties in the past were.

"One thing about discipline, you don't discipline the bottom, you discipline the people at the top. When you do, everyone will stand up and pay attention. It's the same way with a team or anybody in a leadership position, it doesn't do you any good to punish people at the bottom. Just basic leadership, not that the NCAA knows anything about it."

"They made Penn State an FCS school," he said. "That's what it is, they are a 1-AA school right now because they are down to 65 scholarships."

O'Brien did say Penn State can return to national prominence after its probation ends thanks to a national brand built during Paterno's nearly five-decade run as head coach.

"I don't think you can cripple a Penn State because of the brand of who and what they were and what they've accomplished," he said. "You can cripple an SMU, you can cripple somebody that has never won a national championship. It's going to hurt them, but I don't think it will kill them."

O'Brien also mentioned the national rush to re-recruit Penn State players, who are free to transfer to any school under the NCAA's ruling, saying that ACC coaches were scheduled to learn the contact rules at some point Monday evening.

"If you have available scholarships, you have a need and they have someone who fits that need you'd be crazy not to," he said. "If we can find agreement both ways. We won't take somebody that can't help us."

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