Penn State Football: Bill O'Brien Should Win National Coach of the Year Award

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Penn State Nittany Lions gestures towards an official during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Urban Meyer didn't want the job, not in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. 

Greg Schiano didn't either, though we'd later learn that he had his sights set on something bigger than college football.

Seemingly nobody wanted anything to do with taking the reins of a Penn State football program that was reeling from scandal.

No one wanted to face a community that was up in arms about not only the atrocities that took place, but at the hatchet job they believed legendary coach Joe Paterno was the victim of.

Except for Bill O'Brien.

"Who?!?!" could be heard emanating from Happy Valley upon the announcement that O'Brien, the former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, was the man given the unenviable task of navigating such rough waters; of following in a legends' footsteps.

He watched as players left the program. His halfback, Silas Redd, headed west to USC. His kicker, Anthony Fera, headed south to Texas.

Including recruits who had committed to Penn State, more than 15 players left the program, leaving O'Brien with little to work with.

Or so we thought.

He's led Penn State to a 4-2 record, a missed field goal away from 5-1.

His Nittany Lions took down the only ranked team they've faced so far, the then-No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats, whom they dispatched 39-28 this past Saturday.

His offense ranks 78th in the country, putting up more yards than Florida, Rutgers and Stanford, all ranked in the AP Top 25.

They rank 70th in scoring, 0.20 points per game behind Florida.

Defensively, they are even better, ranking 30th in total defense. They are tied with Oklahoma for 19th in the nation when it comes to scoring defense, allowing 16 points per game.

They actually found themselves with a vote for the AP Top 25 this week. If they continue to win, there's no reason that they couldn't find themselves a ranked team once again.

Along with Ohio State, the Nittany Lions are arguably one of two or three best teams in the Big Ten right now.

All of these achievements seemed impossible heading into the season.

Yet O'Brien has stood firm in the face of adversity, believing in his players, believing in his vision for the program.

He's doing what nobody thought could be done.

Bill O'Brien has made the product on the field the focus.