O'Brien said it was "a lot different" this year coming to Baltimore for the three-city coaches' caravan that also included stops in
"I think the addition of Maryland and Rutgers is great for the Big Ten for a lot of reasons," O'Brien said before a lunch with Penn State fans at the Sheraton
Asked if Maryland's future status as a conference rival will change the dynamics of recruiting in the state, O'Brien said, "I don't see how it would necessarily change. Maybe you go head-to-head with them a little bit more than you did in the past."
What it won't be is a revival of a rivalry, considering how one-sided the matchup had been. The Nittany Lions held a 35-1-1 advantage, with Maryland's lone victory coming in 1961 and its last defeat being the most lopsided, a 70-7 demolition in 1993. At Byrd Stadium, no less.
But Penn State fans are looking forward to the revival of the series that dates back to 1917, if mostly for convenience and access to tickets for road games.
Merrill Sumey of
"Now we'll be able to get a little closer," Sumey said. "We won't have to go to
Tony Detato, a 1975 graduate who lives in
O'Brien, who served under
"All 11 of those guys have roles on our team. I'm thinking about [defensive back] Adrian Amos right now," O'Brien said of the former Calvert Hall star. "He's one of the best guys on our team."
Though it is still a year away, the new alignment — which will also include Ohio State,
When Maryland enters the Big Ten, Penn State will be in the third year of four-year NCAA probation that included a bowl ban and capping scholarships at 65 per season — only two more allowed for Football Championship Subdivision teams such as Towson.
Despite a promisiting start to his career at Penn State — the Nittany Lions finished 8-4 after losing their first two games last fall — O'Brien is realistic about the immediate future.
"It would be hard for me to say we're in a better place [than before the sanctions]," O'Brien said. "But I do think we're in a better place in the fact that we have a great group of guys — core guys — committed to this program, 99 percent of them.
"I do think we're in a better place conceptually if that makes sense. It's a very, very difficult challenge. It's one that we embrace — what other choice do we have? But recruiting is an inexact science. You're going to make mistakes. We've already made mistakes and we try to own up those. But you try to bat 100 percent and that's hard to do."