The Penn State Nittany Lions were left for dead entering the 2012 season, but Bill O'Brien made sure that didn't happen in his first year as the team's head coach.
On Tuesday, he was rewarded for that effort. According to the York Daily Record, O'Brien was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media and coaches:
Bill O'Brien wins the #B1G Coach of the Year Award by votes of the media and coaches.— York Daily Record (@YDRPennState) November 28, 2012
O'Brien dealt with a terrible situation better than anyone could have hoped. Not only did he keep the school's spirits high with his consistently optimistic attitude, but he also led the team to an 8-4 season.
The Nittany Lions coach signed his contract prior to the NCAA's scholarship sanctions and four-year bowl ban, but he didn't bat an eye. Unless he's a phony, he seems like he's in Happy Valley for the long haul, something that some coaches would never be able to handle under such circumstances.
O'Brien dealt with a multitude of transfers following the sanctions—including starting running back Silas Redd and No. 1 wide receiver Justin Brown—but he filled in the roster as he went. He adjusted his depth chart as injuries popped up as well, despite lacking depth in a few key areas.
No one expected Penn State to finish the year with eight wins. If kicker Sam Ficken hadn't struggled at the beginning of the season, the number could have been nine or 10. O'Brien's can-do attitude resurrected what looked like a lost cause.
Make no mistake—O'Brien's toughest task still lies ahead. Scholarships will be cut, and convincing recruits to come to Penn State won't be easy over the next four years, but he couldn't have asked for a better start.
The Nittany Lions program is still shrouded in uncertainty, but O'Brien has undoubtedly proven that he's the right man for the job. And, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, he will be there moving forward.
From the looks of things, this may not be the last award O'Brien brings home in his coaching career at Penn State.