O’Brien a finalist for Maxwell Football Club coaching honor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has earned his third recognition in as many days as a finalist for a national coaching honor with his selection as one of three candidates for the 2012 Maxwell Football Club’s Collegiate Coach of the Year.

Earlier this week, O’Brien was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. He also is on the Watch List for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year.

The first-year Nittany Lion mentor last week was named the Big Ten’s Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media) and Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches). He 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.

O’Brien is joined as a finalist for the MFC Collegiate Coach of the Year Award by Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and Bill Snyder (Kansas State).

Voting is underway for the finalist selection for the MFC Collegiate Coach of the Year. Eligible voters include, NCAA Bowl Subdivision Head Coaches and Football Sports Information Directors, Maxwell Football Club members and selected national media. The announcement of the winner will be made Dec. 19 and the award will be formally presented at the 76th Maxwell Awards Gala on March 1, at the Harrah’s Entertainment Resort in Atlantic City 

At the March 1 Awards Gala, the Maxwell Football Club also will present its Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award to the 2012 Penn State football seniors in recognition of their commitment, leadership and outstanding effort during this season.

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. 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 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 this 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 gaining 557 yards against Michigan State in 2008. 

O’Brien helped Penn State earn 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 in 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.

The Maxwell Football Club was founded in 1935 and is the oldest football club of its kind in America. The organization is devoted to recognizing excellence at all levels of football from high school through the NFL ranks. Under the stewardship of MFC President Ron Jaworski, the club has grown rapidly and has members in 40 states. The MFC provides educational and training programs for players and coaches and also provides scholarships to outstanding student-athletes who demonstrate excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

Information on Maxwell Football Club membership can be found at www.maxwellfootballclub.org.

Penn State Athletics is on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pennstatenittanylions) and Twitter (http://www.gopsusports.com/ot/twitter.html).

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