Penn State Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien has been named one of the six finalists for the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award, given annually at an event that follows the bowl season.
O'Brien, in his first year at the helm at Penn State during a tumultuous time, led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record, which surprised many and netted him the honor. Ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, Penn State closed its season with a victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, who eventually won the Big Ten and will represent the conference in the Rose Bowl this year.
The Bear Bryant award is notable for its inclusion of the postseason in voter's consideration, but O'Brien will not get the opportunity to impress voters again.
O'Brien joins the Vanderbilt Commodores' James Franklin, the Ohio State Buckeyes' Urban Meyer, the Stanford Cardinal's David Shaw, the Kansas State Wildcats' Bill Snyder and the Texas A&M Aggies' Kevin Sumlin as finalists for the award, which will be announced Jan. 17.