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Tim Hyland

Penn State's O'Brien Named Maxwell Coach of the Year

By December 19, 2012

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Bill O'Brien has won yet another honor--yet another well-deserved honor, that is--for the remarkable job he's done at Penn State.

On Wednesday, The Maxwell Club announced that O'Brien, who led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 season and, more importantly, helped salvage a program on the brink of collapse, was its 2012 coach of the year. O'Brien beat out Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Kansas State's Bill Snyder for the honor.

O'Brien had previously been named ESPN Coach of the Year.

"Coach O'Brien has engineered a tremendous season for the Penn State football program while overcoming obstacles that many considered to be insurmountable," Maxwell Club executive director Mark Wolpert said in a statement. "The team's 8-4 record is a great testament to the hard work of Coach O'Brien and his staff, and also to the dedication shown by the student-athletes involved in the football program at Penn State."

O'Brien arrived at Penn State last winter, when the university was still reeling in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, then saw his job become even more difficult in July, when the NCAA handed out some of the harshest punishment in college football history--a four-year bowl ban, massive scholarship reductions and a staggeringly huge fine. The NCAA also said it would allow Penn State players to transfer at will, immediately.

Many believed at the time that the Nittany Lions squad would fall apart. But O'Brien, to his credit, held the team together. A couple key players left, but the vast majority stayed, and during the season, O'Brien proved himself to be quite the strategist and game0-planner, too; he coached up the once-erratic Matt McGloin into one of the Big Ten's best quarterbacks, turned little-known players such as Zach Zwinak into stars, and, after a 2-0 start, helped his team win 8 of 10 to finish out the year.

True, an 8-4 season doesn't usually merit this kind of honor.

But the wins and losses only begin to tell the story of the incredible job O'Brien did up in Happy Valley.

Photo: Getty Images

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