Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien says he's fighting to keep his team together after the unprecedented NCAA sanctions ... and claims some universities are playing dirty to get his players.
O'Brien, who has the unenviable task of cleaning up Joe Paterno's mess, was on "Mike and Mike in the Morning" to react to the NCAA rulings -- $60 million fine, vacating 111 wins, 4-year bowl ban, and loss of scholarships.
O'Brien said the hardest part of the punishment is "the fact the NCAA said these guys [Penn State football players] can transfer without penalty." O'Brien added ... he's met with the team and believes most of his players are staying at PSU.
As for the players who are leaving for other schools -- O'Brien said, "I respect the coaching profession, but a lot of coaches ... they have recruited our players without the courtesy of calling me."
O'Brien was not specific about which teams skirted him to get to his players. PSU's star running back Silas Redd is reportedly considering a jump to USC.
O'Brien said he plans to attract future recruits by "talking to them about the degree from PSU. They have to understand to have a PSU degree in their back pocket is a big deal."
O'Brien added ... the sanctions are harsh, but ... "It is what it is."