AMHERST, NY - New Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien joked that this was the first time he's been welcomed to Buffalo.
O'Brien, was not as welcome in his prior job as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.
For the last three weeks O'Brien and several other Penn State coaches have embarked on a three-week journey up and down the east coast on the Penn State Coaches Caravan. On Wednesday night the tour made it's 18th and final stop in Western New York.
"The message that I talk about is my vision for the Penn State football program which is going to be built on the cornerstones of academics, football, respect and integrity," said O'Brien.
O'Brien made every stop along the journey. The new coach is working to help rebuild the Nittany Lions program in the wake of the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
"I wasn't here, but obviously my staff and myself are very aware of what happened in November. We're going to learn from what happened in November, even though we weren't here. We're always going to show we care about children. We're fathers."
O'Brien was named the new head coach at Penn State in January. He replaces the legendary Joe Paterno, who was fired in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, and passed away in late January.
"There was a legendary, iconic head coach here for 46-years named Joe Paterno. That did so many things for this university, this football program, college football. It was really important to get out and meet people."
Despite the challenges, O'Brien was excited for the opportunity to lead the football program. "I jumped at the chance, because I felt like this was one of the jewels of college football and a place where you can do a lot of great things."
Around 150 Penn State alumni attended the event, including Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, who donated $88 million to start a men's and women's division one hockey program at his alma mater.
"It is Pegulaville, I mean he's a rock star," said Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky. "We're very very grateful."
Both O'Brien and Gadowsky said that Western New York will be an important part of their recruiting base. "Hopefully we will be up here every year, looking for the best that you have to offer," said O'Brien.
Currently, Canisius grad John Urschel is slated to start at right guard for the Nittany Lions. The Williamsville native earned high praise from his new head coach. "To me he's one of the best players on our team right now."
Joining Urschel this fall will be former St. Francis star Akeel Lynch. The running back piled up 2,136 yards this past season for the Red Raiders and is a part of O'Brien's first recruiting class at Penn State.
Penn State volleyball head coach Mark Pavlik and women's hockey head coach Josh Bradwene were also part of the Western New York visit. Pavlik coached West Seneca native Matt Anderson at Penn State. Anderson will be a member of the Team USA volleyball team for the 2012 Olympics in London.