Penn State HC Bill O'Brien Wins 2012 Maxwell Coach of the Year Award

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

First-year Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has been named the Maxwell Coach of the Year after leading the team to an 8-4 record (6-2 in the Big Ten) and a second-place finish in the Leaders Division, according to Pac-12 Senior Correspondent Bryan Fischer

O'Brien had the unenviable task of taking over the program at the height of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The NCAA basically hit the university with the death penalty, including fines, loss of scholarships and a four-year bowl ban. 

All of that, combined with losing star running back Silas Redd to USC, left the Nittany Lions football program in a state of unrest. No one knew exactly what to expect from this team in 2012, and there were virtually no expectations when the season started. 

Things did not look good for O'Brien or Penn State right out of the gate, as the team lost its first two games of the season. 

After that, O'Brien really seemed to settle down, and his attitude rubbed off on his players. Penn State won its next five games. In fact, the only losses the team suffered after Sep. 15 were against undefeated Ohio State and a Nebraska team that played in the Big Ten Championship. 

An 8-4 record for a major program like Penn State doesn't sound impressive on its own, but when you put it in the context of all the turnover and turmoil the university has had in the last 12 months, what O'Brien was able to do is nothing short of incredible. 

The current Penn State team won't have the opportunity to play in a bowl game because of what happened with the Jerry Sandusky situation, but O'Brien has at least given the program some hope for the future when just a few months ago it looked like there was nothing left.