Through sanctions, transfers and an 0-2 start, Bill O’Brien guided Penn State to an 8-4 record this season. He was recognized for the job he did Tuesday night.
O’Brien was named the 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the conference coaches and the media.
The first-year coach spoke with the Big Ten Network after winning the honor and called it “very humbling.” He also thanked the Penn State coaching staff and the players that stayed with him after the NCAA hit the school with penalties in July.
“I can’t say enough about what our coaches did and keeping this thing moving forward, and obviously what are players did on the field,” O’Brien said. “We weren’t an undefeated team, but we sure had a bunch of kids that played tough, hard football all year. It was fun to coach them.”
The biggest competition O’Brien faced for the title of conference’s top coach came from Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who led Ohio State to a perfect 12-0 record in his first season with the school. Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno was named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times, most recently in 2008.
O’Brien also served as the Nittany Lions’ offensive coordinator and the team scored about 10 more points a game in 2012 than they did a season ago. The former New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator also played a vital role in the development of quarterback Matt McGloin, who threw for 3,266 yards, 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions this season.
With what O’Brien has done at Penn State coupled with his NFL background, his name will be thrown around when talking about professional head coaching openings. O’Brien never said for sure he’d be back at Penn State in 2013, but he told an Atlanta-based radio station on Tuesday he plans to return to the school next season.
Barnes named B1G Freshman of the Year
O’Brien was not the only member of the Penn State team to be honored Tuesday night.
Deion Barnes was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year. The defensive end — who was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection by both the coaches and the media — led Penn State with six sacks and also forced three fumbles in 12 games this season. The Philadelphia product was the first Lion to be named the conference’s top freshman since running back Curtis Enis in 1995.
The 6-foot-4, 246-pound redshirt freshman also spoke with the Big Ten Network and called winning the award a great honor, and gave credit to fellow defensive end Sean Stanley for helping him throughout the season.
“I always looked up to Sean Stanley, he’s one of the best guys to talk to on the team,” Barnes told analysts. “He’s a senior, so I always look up to him and [defensive tackle] Jordan Hill. But Sean Stanley, I went to him the most, because he understood what I’m going through.”
Ohio State was the other big winner of the night. The Buckeyes’ quarterback Braxton Miller was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. While his teammate, defensive end John Simon, was tabbed as the conference’s top defensive player.
In other Penn State award news, McGloin was named a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy on Tuesday. The Scranton native is one of three finalists for the honor given to the nation’s best player who started his career as a walk-on. The winner will be announced Monday.
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