In a Tuesday conference call the first-year head coach returned to work for the first time since the NCAA leveled the program with restrictive, potentially debilitating measures including reduction in scholarships and a bowl ban that will serve as a deterrent to incoming recruits.
With the odds stacked against them, O'Brien said he didn't ask for much when he met with president Rodney Erickson and athletic director Dave Joyner to discuss the NCAA sanctions.
"I basically said, 'Let us play football and let us be on TV,' " O'Brien said. "And at the end of the day, that's all you want to do. You want to be able to play football, in a fantastic, beautiful stadium in front of passionate fans, and you want your fans that can't get to the game to be able to see you on TV.
"And we've got that, we're able to play football and I understand that we won't be able to go to a bowl game, I understand that, I really do, believe me. ... I'm not sure there's many bowl games that are played in front of 108,000 fans. So I feel good about where we are right now because we do have the ability to play football on TV."
O'Brien said he had no question the current coaching staff would remain intact. The NCAA cleared players to transfer without sitting out this season or any other penalties, which O'Brien continues to view as his greatest challenge.
"I can tell you that right now, my main goal is to keep this 2012 football team together and that’s what I'm working very hard to do every single day," O'Brien told the Dan Patrick Show in an interview with Bonnie Bernstein.
Junior running back Silas Redd is considering Southern Cal, according to his father, and other players have been contacted by coaches inquiring about their status. In an interview at Big 12 media day Tuesday, Kansas coach Charlie Weis said his staff has closely looked at the Penn State roster.