Penn State Football: O'Brien Wins Big Ten Coach of the Year; Barnes Takes Home Freshman of the Year Honors
First-year coach Bill O'Brien was unanimously named Big Ten Coach of the Year, the conference announced Tuesday night.
O'Brien, named Joe Paterno's permanent successor on Jan. 6, guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record despite being hit with unprecedented NCAA sanctions in July, including a four-year postseason ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years.
"It's very humbling," O'Brien said on the Big Ten Network. "There's two groups of people that you have to talk about when it comes to coach of the year. It's our coaching staff and our group of players. You can't say enough about what our coaches did in help keeping this thing moving forward."
Added O'Brien: "You learn a lot because when you haven't done this before, obviously there's so many different things that come across your desk. You learn something new every day and hopefully we can improve on that and head into next year with a certain grasp on different things."
O'Brien's immediate schedule is hitting the recruiting trail Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week.
"It certainly will be a big challenge for us," O'Brien said. "We gotta be very, very selective for who we bring in here as a scholarship athlete."
Also Tuesday, redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes was named the Thompson-Randle El Award winner, given to the conference's most outstanding freshman.
Barnes led the team with 10 tackles for loss and six sacks and tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles.
"I feel good right now," Barnes said on the Big Ten Network. "To be able to be recognized for the freshman of the year, it feels great right now."