For the fourth time since the 2012 regular season ended, Bill O’Brien has received a national honor for the coaching job he did at Penn State under less-than-ideal circumstances.
At a gala in Houston, Tex., Thursday night, it was announced that O’Brien was selected as the recipient of the 2012 Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award. In its 27th year, the award is named in honor of the iconic head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Last year’s winner was Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.
“This is a huge honor for the Penn State program, for a great group of players and a great coaching staff,” O’Brien said in a statement. “The other coaches here are phenomenal coaches who have done this for a long time. I’ve only done this for a year. It shows what type of coaching staff and the type of players we had this year. It is a program award.”
In his first season with the Nittany Lions, and in the initial phase of stifling NCAA sanctions, O’Brien led Penn State to an 8-4 record overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play. The only conference losses were to division winners Nebraska and Ohio State.
Following the bowl-less 2012 season, O’Brien’s name was connected to multiple head-coaching vacancies at the NFL level. After at least two interviews with pro clubs, O’Brien announced earlier this month that he would be returning to the Nittany Lions.
In addition to this award, O’Brien has received coach-of-the-year honors from the prestigious Maxwell Club and the Big Ten as well as ESPN since season’s end.
Ironically enough, the first recipient of Bryant award in 1986 was Joe Paterno, the disgraced icon who O’Brien replaced last year in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal.
LSU received some good news and not so good news ahead of its first game without Les Miles on the sidelines in more than a decade.
On the latter news front, star running back Leonard Fournette is listed as a game-day decision for Saturday’s contest against Missouri because of a lingering ankle issue. The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn.
After leading the country in yards per game last season with nearly 163 yards per game, Fournette is currently 10th at 128.7. That total still tops the SEC.
On a more positive tip for the Tigers, interim head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that starting defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been reinstated to the program and will be permitted to practice with his teammates. Whether he plays this Saturday remains to be seen. Godchaux had been arrested on a pair of charges stemming from a domestic incident over the weekend, but the prosecutor in the case announced Tuesday that he would not be filing formal charges.
Godchaux has started all four games this season (26 in his career) and is fifth on the team in tackles.
Three playing members of the Nebraska football program who knelt in protest during the playing of the national anthem Saturday faced significant — and some racially-charged — criticism for their actions, including one NU regent who wants the players removed from the program. The state’s governor, Pete Ricketts (pictured, right), was highly critical as well.
“Generations of men and women have died to give them that right to protest,” Ricketts said. “I think the way they chose to protest was disgraceful and disrespectful.”
One of the NU kneelers, senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, took to Twitter to ask the governor to met with him and discuss the issues that led he and his teammates, freshmen Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal, to kneel in protest.
Late Tuesday night, Ricketts responded.
Imagine that, discussion, not rhetoric, on both sides of an issue. What a revolutionary concept.
In the eyes of some, Jimbo Fisher left the door open for a departure from Florida State in his first public comments since LSU fired Les Miles.
“I’m not talking about LSU. No I haven’t [had contact with the Tigers] and I’m not talking about it,” the head coach said Monday.
Two days later, Fisher, one of the wagering favorites to replace Miles, attempted to slam the door on a potential departure, although some will see his “plan on” qualifier as leaving the door propped open yet again.
“I love this university. I plan on being here for a long time,” Fisher said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches’ teleconference. “I love Florida State, and that’s all I’m saying. I’ll talk about myself and Florida State.
“Anything else is clutter, and does not concern me, and is not involving me.”
Fisher spent seven seasons (2000-2006) as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU before leaving for the same jobs — and the added title of head coach in waiting — at FSU. Taking over for Bobby Bowden following the 2009 season, Fisher has guided the Seminoles to a 71-15 record in six-plus seasons, with 2013 ending with a national championship.
Last year as speculation centered on Miles’ tenuous status, Fisher was mentioned as a potential candidate then as well. In fact, some reports had Fisher “intermediaries” in talks with LSU, although, obviously, nothing ever came of it if it indeed actually happened.
As No. 10 Washington gets set to host No. 7 Stanford in one of Week 5’s biggest matchups, the latter’s secondary will be down a couple of men in going up against one of the top young quarterbacks in the Pac-12.
David Shaw confirmed Tuesday that both Quenton Meeks (pictured) and Alijah Holder will not play for the Cardinal against the Huskies. The starting cornerbacks were injured in Stanford’s Week 4 win over UCLA.
That tandem is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by Alameen Murphy and Terrence Alexander. Those two will be making their first career starts.
UW’s Jake Browning‘s 14 touchdown passes are tied for second nationally and amongst Pac-12 quarterbacks as well. The sophomore has just two interceptions in his 95 pass attempts.
In addition to Meeks and Holder, starting fullback Daniel Marx has been ruled out because of an injury suffered against the Bruins.
On top of that trio, the Cardinal had previously announced that wide receiver Francis Owusu has been ruled out of this Saturday’s game with a concussion.