Maybe it wasn’t the same as going to a bowl game, but for Penn State fans Tuesday was as big as any bowl game this year could’ve been.
It was the day the Big 10 announced that Bill O’Brien won Coach of the Year over Ohio State’s Urban Meyer – and it was the day that O’Brien indicated that he would be staying at Penn State.
The Big Ten Network did a great job of rolling out its season-ending awards Monday and Tuesday night and, at least in my opinion, Penn Staters took greater interest in making sure members of this 2012 team got their due than in any previous year.
Linebacker Michael Mauti, wide receiver Allen Robinson, defensive end Jordan Hill, offensive guard John Urschel, center Matt Stankiewitch and tight end Kyle Carter were all named first-team all-conference by the media or the coaches on Monday. Mauti, in fact, was named the Big Ten’s Linebacker of the Year and Robinson was the Receiver of the Year.
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In addition, Gerald Hodges was a second-team choice at linebacker.
Seven other Nittany Lions earned honorable mention including quarterback Matt McGloin, cornerback Adrian Amos, defensive end Deion Barnes, offensive tackle Mike Farrell, cornerback Stephon Morris, defensive end Sean Stanley and running back Zach Zwinak.
Barnes, a freshman, was named the Freshman of the Year.
Considering where this program was in August, it certainly wasn’t a bad haul for the Nittany Lions.
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After Monday night’s announcement of the All-Big 10 teams, it was Tuesday evening’s Coach of the Year announcement that had the Twitter-verse abuzz. Would it be Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who guided the Buckeyes to an undefeated season? Or would it be O’Brien, who directed Penn State through multiple minefields of sanctions, transfers, public relations and, oh yes, led it to an 8-4 record when most felt the program was dead.
After O’Brien won the award from both the media and the coaches he said, “This is a fantastic honor, very humbling. Any time you’re 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 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.”
Even more important to the fans and the program was the fact that O’Brien on Tuesday indicated that he plans to stay at Penn State. There has been speculation that he might be in line for some NFL openings.
Tuesday morning on an Atlanta radio station (scroll to the bottom and O'Brien's interview is there), he stated that he planned to be back at Penn State.
Also, in an article on ESPN.com, O’Brien’s agent Joe Linta indicated the same.
“(O'Brien) is staying, and we've had no conversations with anyone else," Linta told ESPN's Darren Rovell. "In fact, he's leaving at 6 in the morning to go out on the recruiting trail."
Those words brought relief and joy to Nittany Lion fans everywhere.
Given the fact there is no bowl this year, it’s hard to believe that Penn State fans could’ve had a better post-season day than Tuesday.
Follow Marty Valania on Twitter @EastRecruiting.