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“I say they’ll be back on track in five years,” he said.

The question that follows is: Will O’Brien be around long enough to pull Penn State from the wreckage?

His contract would make resigning costly. If he were to step down after one season of his five-year deal, he would have to pay the university about $4 million.

While O'Brien said he was prepared for bumps in the road when he took over, could he have seen this coming?

“You always assume it could go badly,” Neuheisel said. “I don’t think you could assume this was down the road. This is almost worse than the death penalty.”

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoAP