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Bill O'Brien wins Big Ten Coach of the Year

In his first season at Penn State, Bill O'Brien earned the Big Ten Coach of the Year honor for the Nittany Lions' 8-4 performance.

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

Bill O'Brien has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year, winning the honor from both the media and the coaches.

O'Brien went 8-4 (6-2) in his first season as a head coach at any level, exceeding expectations for Penn State in 2012. The task ahead of O'Brien was tough in the school's first season without Joe Paterno at the helm since 1965: the school and the program were rocked by the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and NCAA sanctions allowed players to transfer out of the program with no restrictions. Eventually, 18 players left the program.

But the former New England Patriots assistant rallied his players around Penn State, despite the lack of incentive with a bowl ban preventing Penn State from participating in postseason play. Things looked like they could be rough for the Nittany Lions, as they lost their first two games to a MAC team in Ohio and a Virginia squad that eventually finished 4-8. But from there on out, Penn State was on point, only losing to Ohio State, who finished the year undefeated, and No. 16 Nebraska, who won on the strength of a controversial goal line call. Matt McGloin flourished in O'Brien's offense, with the former walk-on having an amazing senior campaign, throwing for 3,271 yards and 24 touchdowns against only five picks.

Many speculated that the 43-year-old head coach would be a hot commodity on the coaching market after the season, but today his agent confirmed that he would stay committed to Penn State.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.