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.
Michigan State has become a national power under the coaching of Mark Dantonio. The grizzled and confident coach has put together a master plan in East Lansing and has taken the Spartans to the top of the Big Ten along the way, capturing a Big Ten title and victories in the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl as well as in-state dominance over the Michigan Wolverines. Danotnio is preparing his Spartans to take on the Wolverines this week, but with the new vacancy opening up at South Carolina following the sudden retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio has already been presented with the question about his thoughts on coaching at South Carolina.
He did not seem all that interested in discussing the vacancy when meeting with Michigan State media this morning.
“Coach Spurrier’s had an outstanding career there, it’s alma mater, and we’re here to talk about Michigan,” Dantonio said when asked about it today. Video below from the Big Ten Network…
Dantonio played defensive back for the Gamecocks in the mid 1970s, which helps make Dantonio an interesting name to mention in any coaching future discussion out of Columbia. While Dantonio may have played at South Carolina for Jim Carlen, Dantonio grew up in Ohio and has coached the bulk of his career within Ohio and the Big Ten. He is also one win away from picking up his 100th career coaching victory, 81 of which have come at Michigan State.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is stepping down as head coach of the Gamecocks, and that has the college football world reflecting on the impact he has had on the game of college football. Spurrier’s quips at rivals and revolutionary thoughts on where the sport has been heading were always on the mark, even when his team’s performance on the field was not.
Dan Patrick shared his reaction to the news of Spurrier retiring today on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network). As many have already suggested, Spurrier’s wit and charm brought a refreshing personality to the SEC.