Many thought that Bill O’Brien would be the one who led Penn State out of its darkest time and back to a college football power.

O’Brien accomplished the former, and James Franklin accomplished the latter.

But there were no sour grapes when O’Brien left Penn State for the Houston Texans. He’s been rooting for the Lions to succeed and get to the point where they are today.

With Penn State days away from playing for a B1G Championship and potentially a College Football Playoff berth, O’Brien was asked about his former team. His response, of course, was nothing but praise.

“Couldn’t be more proud of that program, those kids,” O’Brien said Monday at his weekly press conference in Texas. “A lot of those kids were there when we were there as a staff. I could answer this forever.”

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O’Brien dealt with the scholarship reductions and the postseason ban. Still, his teams never had a losing record. Penn State actually went 8-4 and O’Brien won the Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award in 2012.

For Penn State to have turned things around in four years, O’Brien said, is incredibly impressive.

“In 2012 — now, I will say this — in 2012, people gave up on that program,” O’Brien said. “And you can go back and look it up. Numerous experts gave up on that program, and it’s a great testament to that school, that coaching staff — James Franklin’s staff that’s there now.

“And especially those kids. To come back from that and to be 10-2 and playing in the Big Ten championship game, when it was basically very close to death-penalty, SMU-type sanctions — that’s a testament to those kids that are there now.”