UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has been selected the Maxwell Football Club’s Collegiate Coach of the Year today (Dec. 19), earning his second national coaching honor.
O’Brien previously was named the ESPN Coach of the Year. He also is a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year. The first-year Nittany Lion mentor also was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and is among six candidates for the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year.
“Coach O’Brien has engineered a tremendous season for the Penn State football program while overcoming obstacles that many considered to be insurmountable,” stated Mark Wolpert, Maxwell Football Club executive director. “The team’s 8-4 record is a great testament to the hard work of Coach O’Brien and his staff, and also to the dedication shown by the student-athletes involved in the football program at Penn State.”
O’Brien will be honored March 1, at the 76th Maxwell Club National Awards Gala, which will be held at the Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort. At the event, the MFC 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.
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 Jan. 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 ypg) in conference games, 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 two All-Americans (Jordan Hill and Michael Mauti), 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.
Other honorees that will be recognized at the March 1 event include Manti Te’o (Notre Dame), winner of the Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards, and Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens) winner of the Francis "Reds” Bagnell Award. Additional honorees of the Maxwell Club’s professional awards will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets for the Maxwell Football Club National Awards Gala are available for purchase on the club’s website https://maxwellfootballclub.org/event-tickets/maxwell-football-club-national-awards-dinner or by calling 215-643-3833.
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.