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Penn State's O'Brien named Big Ten Coach of the Year

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Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien looks on during the 4th quarter of the overtime victory over the Wisconsin Badgers at Beaver Stadium in University Park on November 24, 2012.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Scott Brown
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 9:10 p.m.
 

On the same day he reaffirmed his commitment to Penn State, Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in separate votes taken by both the media and the conference coaches.

O'Brien, in his first season as a head coach at any level, held Penn State's program together after the NCAA levied severe sanctions against it. He also led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record and a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten that Penn State capped last Saturday with a 24-21 overtime win over Wisconsin.

“It's very humbling,” O'Brien said in a statement Tuesday night. “It's an honor for our program. 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.”

In addition to O'Brien, Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. The Philadelphia native led Penn State in sacks (six) and tackles for losses (10). He also tied for fourth in the Big Ten with three forced fumbles.

Barnes has said he plans to stay at Penn State even though players can transfer without penalty until the start of the 2013 season.

O'Brien also said he will return to Penn State in an interview Tuesday with an Atlanta radio station.

“I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State,” O'Brien told 790 The Zone. “That's my plan, and that's what I intend to do.”

O'Brien established a Penn State record in victories by a first-year head coach. He beat out Ohio State's Urban Meyer for top coaching honors in the Big Ten even though Meyer led the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 season.

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

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