Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's Bill O'Brien are two of the top candidates for college football's midseason coach of the year award. Meyer has the Buckeyes off to a 7-0 start, while O'Brien has guided Penn State through a difficult offseason to a 4-2 record so far.
Is Bill O'Brien or Urban Meyer the Big Ten's Midseason Coach of the Year?
Kevin McGuire, No2MinuteWarning.com, (@KevinonCFB)
One of the key factors I like to look at when determining who should be coach of the year is what do they have to work with. At Ohio State Urban Meyer inherited a pretty solid program form top to bottom with a Braxton Miller sitting there waiting to be groomed. At Penn State Bill O'Brien took over a program ripped of its heart and soul and destined for some of the heaviest sanctions the college sports world has seen in a long time, which would lead the team's star running back, leading receiver and best kicker create their own exit plans in addition to a handful of others to hurt some depth. Both coaches have dealt with some adversity on the football field as well, with Meyer's defense being shredded by Indiana most recently and with O'Brien's team dropping the first two games of the season. Credit to Meyer for coming away with wins each week so far but also credit to O'Brien for not losing his team when they started off 0-2. The season could have been lost right out of the gate for O'Brien but he and his team have rattled off four straight wins heading in to their bye week. If you take a closer look at both teams, you will also see that Penn State has shown signs of improvement on a weekly basis overall despite depth and injury issues at times. Both coaches are doing fine jobs, but after half a season, O'Brien is the clear leader for coach of the year in the Big Ten, and perhaps the nation.
Coach Dick MacPherson, former head coach of the Syracuse Orange, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Urban Meyer would be my pick at this point. He has come to a team loaded with talent. Coach Meyer has done a nice job with the team but he definitely has an advantage because Coach Tressel did not leave the cupboard bare.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
This is certainly Bill O’Brien, by every measure. No college football team since SMU returned from the death penalty had this much adversity. To think Penn State is three wins away from a winning record is shocking. After the Ohio loss, I was skeptical if Penn State would be Temple or Indiana. Now, seven wins or more seems like a given. Let’s forget about the transfers, the probation and the stain left on the program. Let’s just talk about improvement. A year ago, this paltry offense was nothing more than Silas Redd, who bolted for USC. Now, we’re looking at a team that is third in the league in scoring offense in conference games and fifth in total offense in conference games. Matt McGloin has long since eclipsed his touchdown total from last season and will pass his yardage mark in his next game. And Allen Robinson, who caught three passes last season, is the Big Ten’s best receiver. The coach who landed at Ohio State with Braxton Miller waiting for him has nothing on what O’Brien has done.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
My answer at the end of the year will likely be different than it is today. If Ohio State finishes unbeaten with a Heisman finalist in Braxton Miller, Urban Meyer would easily be my vote for Big Ten Coach of the Year. But right now, Bill O'Brien is the pick with what he has accomplished in the face of the ugliest NCAA scandal in history and a mass exodus of players in the preseason. He is a few plays away from being unbeaten at 6-0 after rattling off four straight wins. He has turned Matt McGloin into a conference player of the year contender and the Nittany Lion offense is more innovative and a creative than it has been in years. Coach BoB's team leads the Big Ten in turnover margin, is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing offense and is No. 2 in scoring defense at just 16.0 points allowed per game.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Urban Meyer deserves a lot of credit for leading Ohio State to a 7-0 record, but I have to give the edge to Bill O’Brien at the midpoint of the season. I was skeptical of how well this hire would work out, but the Nittany Lions are 4-2 and enter Week 8 riding a four-game wining streak. Under O’Brien’s leadership, Penn State’s offense is a much-improved group, averaging 27 points and 390.2 yards per game. Quarterback Matt McGloin has thrived under O’Brien’s playcalling, and a team that was lacking proven playmakers at the start of the year has scored at least 30 points in three straight games. As usual, the defense is solid, and linebacker Michael Mauti is one of the frontrunners for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. The schedule gets considerably tougher in the second half for the Nittany Lions, as they have games against Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Even though the strength of schedule will increase, O’Brien should be able to guide this team to at eight wins, which would exceed nearly everyone’s preseason expectations. With the scholarship reductions and bowl ban, O’Brien has his work cut out for him in the next five seasons. However, after the first six games of the year, he should be the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
I’d go with Bill O’Brien as the midseason Big Ten Coach of the Year. Not only did O’Brien walk into the worst scandal in the history of collegiate athletics, he also inherited a mediocre roster that was stripped of its two best skill position players (tailback Silas Redd and wide receiver Justin Brown). Yet, the Nittany Lions are a vastly improved offensive team in 2012. They are averaging 390.1 yards and 27.0 points per game, up from 342.4 and 19.3 last season. Penn State has won four straight after losing its first two games, and each of its four wins have come by 11 points or more. O’Brien has done a tremendous job in a very difficult spot.
Not to take anything away from Meyer, who is doing a fantastic job in his first season at Ohio State, but how can you not give this one to O'Brien? Granted the Buckeyes are undefeated and will more than likely finish with a better record and higher in the polls than Penn State, but the situation Meyer was inheriting in Columbus was leaps and bounds better than the mess O'Brien took over in State College. Both schools are dealing with NCAA sanctions and penalties that include postseason bans this year, but that's where the similarities begin and end. Simply put, no school or football program has ever experienced what Penn State has had to go through, and that includes SMU, the only school to ever receive the death penalty from the NCAA. Besides having to deal with everything associated with the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which is far from being completely over, O'Brien had to focus on keeping his recruiting class together and then dealt with a mass exodus of current players. Once the focus finally returned to the field, O'Brien had to keep this team united and positive while enduring two emotionally draining losses to open the season. Since starting 0-2, Penn State has reeled off four straight victories, and now has a legitimate shot at finishing the season with eight or more wins. That is quite a remarkable accomplishment for O'Brien, his staff and the players that stuck around after all they have had to deal with.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
While Bill O'Brien has done a quality job in getting Penn State to a 4-2 after two opening losses, I would have to go with Urban Meyer at this point. It has not always been pretty for Ohio State this season, but 7-0 is 7-0. Meyer does have solid talent on the Buckeyes roster, but this is an OSU team that went 6-7 a year ago. Whether it was a 17-16 defensive battle with Michigan State or a 52-49 shootout with Indiana, Meyer's squad has found a way to prevail every week. The Nittany Lions could lose four or five more games, while I believe Ohio State will go 11-1 with a solid shot at an undefeated season. As controversial as he may be, Meyer projects as the hyphenated Big Ten Coach of the Year.
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