Penn State football starts new chapter

(CBS News) Penn State is about to kick off their 2012 football season - its first after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The team will be lead by head coach Bill O'Brien, the first man to patrol the sidelines there since the Joe Paterno era began in 1966.

Paterno family adjusts to new era at Penn State

Just two months after Paterno's dismissal, O'Brien agreed to give up his job as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots to take over the team plagued by controversy. James Brown spoke with O'Brien about the challenges he and his team face in the season ahead - challenges that extend far beyond the football field.

"We have to focus on playing good football," O'Brien said. "But we also have to understand that in many ways this is about more than football. And that's what we're beginning to talk to our kids about."

Going forward, the team is making community outreach a priority, paying particularly close attention to victims of child abuse.

"We gotta focus on football when we're on the football field," he said. "We gotta focus on class when we're in the classroom, but we're gonna definitely make time and do the best job we can to involve ourselves in the community in many different ways including reaching out to child abuse organizations."

The crippling NCAA sanctions - five years probation, four years of no bowl games, and the loss of 40 scholarships between now and 2015 - have cast a dark cloud over the future of the program.

Nine players have since moved on to other teams. But while some view the sanctions as a challenge, others, like Brandon Bell, see it as an opportunity.

"I think we'll really be remembered for how my class does, maybe the class after this, coming off the sanctions stuff," Bell said. "If we come out and show everybody what we're made of I think we're going to be remembered."

Bill O'Brien knows he has a tough road ahead, but he says he's ready to write the next chapter of this program's storied history. And while he and his players are looking forward to getting back on the field, he says he'll never let anyone in Happy Valley forget its past.

"Life is all about how you overcome adversity," O'Brien said. "And in my opinion, this is a chance for these kids to go out here, play good football, go to class, graduate, but also do something that's a little bit bigger than football. And that is to show that we've learned from the mistakes of the past and to help people realize that children are so important to society and that child abuse is something that has to stop."

To watch the full interview, click on the video above.

  • James Brown

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