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Originally published Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:47 PM

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Penn State coach Bill O'Brien emphasizes keeping team together | College football

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is stressing education and the opportunity to play in front of 108,000 fans on fall Saturdays as part of his pitch to persuade players to stay at the school.

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Of the long list of obstacles facing Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, the top priority sounds simple: keeping the Nittany Lions intact.

He is stressing education and the opportunity to play in front of 108,000 fans on fall Saturdays as part of his pitch to persuade players to stay in Happy Valley.

O'Brien, in a conference call with media Tuesday, said no current member of the team has indicated he will transfer in the wake of NCAA sanctions — including a four-year postseason ban — imposed Monday on Penn State. The penalties allow current players to transfer without restrictions.

O'Brien, relaying what he told players in team meetings, said, "I told the guys to think about the guys they're sitting next to in that room. We've got a bunch of good kids here who are good, tough football players who care about education."

The NCAA imposed penalties in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. The university's investigation found coach Joe Paterno and three other school officials concealed allegations against Sandusky, the retired defensive coordinator — conclusions vehemently denied by Paterno's family and the officials.

Paterno was fired in November and died in January.

O'Brien said it is important for fans and the program that games are remaining on television.

"We are playing football. We are opening our season on Sept. 1 before 108,000 strong against Ohio University," O'Brien said emphatically.

"We get to get better as football players, and we get to do that for Penn State."

Notes

• State Farm insurance company is pulling its ads from broadcasts of Penn State home games and General Motors is reconsidering its sponsorship deal.

"We will not directly support Penn State football this year," State Farm spokesman Dave Phillips said.

• A preseason media poll is projecting Boise State as the overwhelming favorite to win the Mountain West Conference title.

The Broncos have been favored to win their conference the last five years; they will join the Big East for the 2013 season.

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