Bill O'Brien's team didn't go undefeated, and he won't be coaching in a bowl game, but it will be a complete shame if Penn State's inspirational leader doesn't win the 2012 national Coach of the Year Award.
O'Brien accepted perhaps the most daunting task in college football history when he agreed to take over a Nittany Lions program that was in shambles. Following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the NCAA leveled Penn State with sanctions, dishing out a four-year postseason ban and taking 40 scholarships from the Nittany Lions over that same period.
Penn State even lost some of the best players already on their roster, such as running back Silas Redd, who understandably jumped ship after the punishments were handed down.
Despite all hurdles in his way, O'Brien led his team to a strong 8-4 season, including a 6-2 record in the competitive Big Ten. Penn State overcame a disappointing 0-2 start to win five straight at one point, and they bounced back from 32-23 defeat against Nebraska to win their final two games of the season.
O'Brien also helped former walk-on Matt McGloin blossom into one of the best quarterbacks in the conference, and the rest of the team rallied around their fearless coach.
O'Brien led his team through hell and high water, instilling confidence in a team and a program that should have been devastated for the rest of this decade. But instead of crumbling, O'Brien's crew surged in the face of adversity.
But Bill O'Brien was so unbelievably good that he led his team to a second-place finish in a power conference with the biggest scandal in the history of college sports hanging over his head. If that doesn't earn you the national Coach of the Year award, then nothing should.
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