Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien are both perfect candidates for the 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Each entered dire situations and certainly have their respective programs headed in the correct direction. Meyer, as we know, is one of the most established college coaches right now, and especially with his prior SEC success.
As for O'Brien, the Nittany Lions are his first head-coaching position after serving under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. Ahead, let's break down each coach strictly in terms of the circumstances coming into the 2012 campaign and how everything this fall panned out.
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
The Buckeyes finished a perfect 12-0 and still possess an outside shot for a split of the AP national title. Given the sanctions, Ohio State going undefeated with literally nothing to play for says a lot about Meyer's coaching ability.
For starters, it's tough to run the table—regardless of schedule—and stay focused throughout. But with nothing in the postseason to play for, it would definitely be easy for anyone to pack it in before Game 1.
Instead, not only did Ohio State sweep the schedule, but Meyer's team collected wins over Nebraska and Wisconsin. Interestingly enough, those are the two schools competing in the 2012 Big Ten championship game.
The Buckeyes also got a win over Michigan, which improves their record to 10-2 over the Wolverines since 2001. If anything, Meyer's team displayed excellent resiliency and perfection is the final outcome.
Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Without question, people are more important than the game of football. It is, however, what the game teaches that we can learn about those involved with a specific program.
Obviously, the Penn State football program was in shambles, to say the least, after everything that unfolded regarding Jerry Sandusky. The legacy of Joe Paterno obviously didn't end well and the Nittany Lions had more important things to deal with than any game of football.
So, in comes Bill O'Brien, who thus far has proven to be the correct hire. Coming from the Patriots and Belichick, O'Brien led Penn State to an 8-4 record, which included wins over Northwestern and Wisconsin.
On a greater scale than that of Meyer, though, O'Brien's 2012 situation was much more extreme.
He was replacing a long-time coach in Paterno and taking over a program with scandalous marks. In short, the ability to keep his players true to the course with much more going on off the field is quite impressive.
And the Winner Is...
Both are worthy of the accolade, but O'Brien is the stronger candidate.
Now, yes, Meyer took over a 6-7 team from 2011 and flipped that to a perfect season. Still, we knew he was going to turn Ohio State around because Meyer's overall college resume enhances those expectations.
After all, Meyer saw a perfect season with the Utah Utes in 2004 and won two national titles with the Florida Gators. Taking over the Buckeyes and seeing immediate results for the better simply comes as no surprise.
O'Brien, on the other hand, is in his first job as a head coach. Factor in the extremely difficult circumstances at Penn State compared to Ohio State, and O'Brien has the environment and community of Happy Valley headed in a positive direction.
Without question, Meyer has done so as well, although it's impossible to fathom the situation O'Brien inherited last offseason.
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