Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
An undefeated season – the only one in the Big Ten Conference in 2012 – wasn’t enough to earn Ohio State coach Urban Meyer the Big Ten Conference’s Coach of the Year Award.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, who helped lead the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 overall record despite players transferring after the NCAA levied four years worth of sanctions on the program, took the conference’s top coaching honor Monday night.
The child sexual abuse scandal involving former PSU assistant coach Jerry Sandusky resulted in a $60 million dollar fine and a four-year postseason ban administered to O’Brien’s program by the NCAA, as well as the opportunity for his players to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year.
Some players departed, but enough talent remained for O’Brien to right the program after low expectations coming into the season and an 0-2 start to finish with an eight-win season.
“This is a fantastic honor. It’s very humbling,” O’Brien said in a PSU athletics release. “Any time you are named coach of the year, it has a lot to do with two groups of people – it’s your coaching staff and obviously your players. We have a great coaching staff that did a nice job of keeping everything together and teaching our players. And our players did a great job of going out there every week and playing as hard as they could. It’s an honor for our program.”
Unlike O’Brien, Meyer didn’t lose any games in 2012, and completed a perfect, 12-0 season with a 26-21 victory against archrival Michigan on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Meyer was also forced to contend with a postseason ban, but only for a year.
OSU was barred from postseason competition in the wake of the “Tattoo-Gate” scandal in which former coach Jim Tressel knowingly fielded a team of ineligible players during the 2010 season, which was later vacated.