On Monday, O'Brien was named a finalist for the 2012 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). O'Brien also is on the Watch List for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year.
The first-year Nittany Lion mentor last week was named the Big Ten's Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media) and Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches). He was just the seventh first-year head coach to earn the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year in the 41 years it has been awarded.
O'Brien is joined as a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award by: Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Jim Mora, Jr. (UCLA), Mark Richt (Georgia), Nick Saban (Alabama), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Charlie Strong (Louisville), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).
Established in 2006, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year recognizes coaches who demonstrate sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence both on and off the field.
Beginning today through December 20, Penn State fans can log their Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year vote for Bill O'Brien by visiting coachoftheyear.com on their PC, tablet or mobile device and posting a pre-populated tweet. As part of Liberty Mutual's partnership with the National Football Foundation, a selection committee of more than 50 College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches, as well as national college football media, will evaluate the coaches based on their responsibility, integrity and on-field success to help determine the four coaching winners from FBS, the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and Division III.
Winners are ultimately determined using the following voting weight: fan voting (20 percent), College Football Hall of Fame (55 percent) and media (25 percent).
Liberty Mutual will announce the four winners the morning of the BCS National Championship game, January 7, 2013, in South Florida. The FBS coaching winner will receive a $50,000 donation from Liberty Mutual to the charity or charities of his choice, as well as a $20,000 scholarship grant in their name to their school's alumni association. Since 2006, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award has celebrated the work of its 21 winners by donating more than $1.5 million to over 90 charities and college alumni scholarship funds.
Named Penn State's 15th head football coach on January 6, 2012, O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to victories in eight of their final 10 games, earning an 8-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten, with the only losses coming to division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. O'Brien's eight wins are the most by a first-year Penn State coach in the 126 years of the program.
Penn State reeled off five consecutive victories after an 0-2 start, as O'Brien tied George Hoskins (1892) and Dick Harlow (1915) for the most consecutive wins by a first-year Nittany Lion coach. Penn State also won its initial three Big Ten road games, making O'Brien just the fifth Big ten coach since 1950 to win his first three conference away contests.
O'Brien engineered a dynamic, fast-paced offense that featured the Big Ten's passing leader (Matt McGloin), top receiver (Allen Robinson) and a running back (Zach Zwinak) who gained 100 yards six times in eight Big Ten games and 1,000 yards for the season. Penn State led the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and was second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense (283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes this season.
Penn State gained more than 500 yards of total offense three times in conference play, topped by 546 yards vs. Indiana, its highest total against a Big Ten foe since gaining 557 yards against Michigan State in 2008.
O'Brien helped Penn State earn six first-team All-Big Ten selections and three individual conference award winners:
- Michael Mauti - Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year;
- Allen Robinson - Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year;
- Deion Barnes - Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
O'Brien came to Penn State after five years on the New England Patriots' coaching staff, serving as the quarterbacks coach from 2009-11 and as offensive coordinator last year in helping the Patriots to the AFC Championship and a berth Super Bowl XLVI. O'Brien began his coaching career at his alma mater, Brown University, in 1993-94. He then coached at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06) before joining Bill Belichick's New England staff.
Source: PSU Athletics