PSU's Okoli, Moye react to Paterno's exit
November, 9, 2011
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
Here is some more player reaction to Penn State coach Joe Paterno's announcement he would retire. Senior offensive lineman Chima Okoli spoke on a teleconference this afternoon, while senior receiver Derek Moye talked outside of the Lasch Football Building shortly after Paterno informed the team.
- Said the players gave Paterno a standing ovation when he finished talking. "You're in the presence of someone who really embodies and exemplifies dedication and perseverance. His last words were definitely ones we hung on." He said Paterno's last words were about how the players would forever be linked to Penn State football and would forever be a family.
- On how the team will respond: "We'll be fine. Quite frankly you guys in the media and even people in the sporting world have been doubting us all season. We know we have to come together. This is going to do that and really galvanize us to come together like we've been doing the past couple weeks. This is our team, and I know that's what coach Paterno would have supported, us working as hard as ever to the end of our destination. It's not the end of our season. We're not going to hide in a shell, we're not going to roll over and play dead. ... At the end of the day, you have to own up as a man and take care of your responsibilities, and that's what we're going to do."
- On what he expects from the crowd Saturday: "If I had to guess, I think there will be a lot of cheers for Coach Paterno and what he's done for the university when Saturday comes around."
- On what Paterno has meant to him: "I came here a boy, and I'm going to leave a man. And that's all due to Joe Paterno."
- On the final stretch of the season: "We're basically in a three-game playoff and every single one is crucial."
- On the mood around campus: "I've been trying to keep to myself. But there are a lot of people in tears, a lot of people crying. A lot of people are emotional."
- On the players-only meeting called for later this afternoon: "I think we're just going to go over the principles of why we do this and why we can't let anything stop us. ... All we can do is come together. All we have is each other. To be frank, most of you guys in the media didn't believe in us. A lot of people around the country told us what we can't do. And we're all we have."
- On wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, who spoke to the receivers after the meeting: "We have a really good personal relationship. We've all got his back. He taught me everything I know and he's the reason I'm here. He's the reason I'm the player I am now. So it's kind of tough to see him going through something like this."
- On what McQueary's message was: "It was just, go on and beat Nebraska. That's been one of the themes from all of the coaches." Moye said he didn't know if McQueary would coach Saturday but added, "I hope so."
- On how the team will respond: "If anything, it should motivate us more, to want to go out and get a win for Coach Paterno's last home game, for maybe the coaching staff's last game at Beaver Stadium. And it's senior day. ... We're handling it pretty well. We've been practicing well."
- On how they can avoid distractions: "It's pretty easy. Just worry about football. We've got a goal to win a Big Ten championship, and we're going to go do that."
- On the scene at the meeting: "Joe was crying, team members and coaches were. So, it was pretty emotional."