Penn State linebacker Mike Mauti gave a knowing laugh when he was asked about former Nittany Lions being critical of the school's decision to hire new head coach Bill O'Brien.
One-time All-Americans LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short initially blasted Penn State for hiring O'Brien over longtime PSU assistant Tom Bradley, though both have since softened their respective stances.
Mauti was disappointed in their reactions.
It's not really about them, necessarily, Mauti said. I think if ever there was a time to come and support the Penn State football program, it would be now. I don't think that going against what decisions were made is helpful.
And I like those guys. I respect those guys, he added. Those guys are great players, they're great people. But if there was any time, the time is now to come around Penn State, the football players and the program, and to support us.
Former players who have been critical of the hire have almost all pointed to the fact that O'Brien had no previous ties to Penn State. Another common complaint, which has come more from fans than former players, is that O'Brien has never been a head coach. He is currently offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.
After O'Brien held a team meeting at the Lasch Football Building Sunday, tailback Silas Redd said he is confident the new coach has what it takes to succeed.
I'll tell you right now, all the guys that were in that squad room are behind him and ready to rally behind him no matter what, Redd said. To the people who had doubts about him, look, everyone had to start somewhere. Every head coach has had a head-coaching debut. This is his debut, and he's more than ready to steer this whole thing. I know we're excited for him.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill shrugged off the criticism.
I really can't speak for another man, he said. That's their opinion, and every man has a right to his opinion. If that's the way they feel, that's the way they feel. We just hope they keep supporting us.