Bill O'Brien was recognized yesterday as the Hayes-Schembechler Big Ten coach of the year, and there's no doubt that the job that him and his staff have done at Penn State, coming into a very unique, and very difficult situation, has been impressive.
O'Brien noted on BTN Live yesterday that his NFL experience with a 53 man roster helped him manage practices and their overall roster after 20 players decided to leave the program following the announcement of NCAA sanctions.
"It was a matter of managing them and making sure that we didn't have blood-bath type practices every week, and we always used to use the phrase 'Get them to the gate' on Saturday and most weeks that worked, but sometimes it didn't."
Even after an impressive 8-4 season, O'Brien admits that he still has a lot to learn being a first time head coach.
"I learned that, number one, I have a lot to improve on. Whether it's game management, clock management, practice schedules, dealing with things that happen in the football building, or dealing with players. I'm just going to try to look to improve every single day and hopefully do the best that I can to help this football program improve." he explained.
"You learn a lot because when you haven't done this before, there are so many different things that come across your desk as compared to when you're an assistant, so hopefully you learn something new every day and can improve on that and go into next year with a better grasp on certain things."
O'Brien's passion and resolve were just what Penn State needed during a very, very difficult time, and as the program moves forward, there's no doubt that they got the right guy for the job. In his first year on campus, he admits that there is plenty for him to learn but the bottom line is that he took on a situation that many coaches were very hesitant to enter...and at the end of the season it would have been hard to script it any better.
Congrats to Coach O'Brien and his staff for the well deserved recognition.