* Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
HOUSTON - Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has been selected the 2012 Bear Bryant Coach of the Year, earning his third national coaching honor.
Sponsored by the American Heart Association and Marathon Oil, the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year announcement was made Thursday night at the 27th annual event at the downtown Hyatt Regency. In his first season as head coach of the Nittany Lions, O'Brien was among six finalists for the 2012 Bear Bryant Coach of the Year.
The Bear Bryant Awards are named in honor of college football coaching legend Paul "Bear" Bryant and is voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. The first recipient of the award was Coach Joe Paterno after he led Penn State to the 1986 National Championship. Penn State and Auburn are the only schools with multiple recipients of the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award.
"This is a huge honor for the Penn State program, for a great group of players and a great coaching staff," O'Brien said after the announcement. "The other coaches here are phenomenal coaches who have done this for a long time. I've only done this for a year. It shows what type of coaching staff and the type of players we had this year. It is a program award."
Former BYU coach LaVell Edwards was presented the Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award at the banquet. Funds raised benefit research, community education and outreach programs of the American Heart Association.
O'Brien previously was named the Maxwell Football Club and ESPN Coach of the Year. He also was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He also was a finalist for the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year.
O'Brien was named the Big Ten's Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media) and Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches). The Brown University graduate 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.
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. Penn State capped the season with a 24-21 overtime victory over eventual Big Ten Champion Wisconsin on Senior Day. 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 during the 2012 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 2008.
O'Brien helped Penn State earn two All-Americans (Jordan Hill and Michael Mauti), one national award winner (Matt McGloin, Burlsworth Trophy), 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.