Penn State football O'Brien

Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien directs his team during practice today in State College, Pa. The team held its first formal workouts since the NCAA leveled strict sanctions against the program, including a four-year bowl ban, for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Associated Press photo by Nabil K. Mark/The Centre Daily Times

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State's Bill O'Brien has picked up another coaching honor.

The Maxwell Football Club named O'Brien coach of the year on Tuesday after the first-year head coach guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record under unprecedented circumstances.

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O'Brien will pick up the award on March 1 at the Maxwell Club's awards gala in Atlantic City. That same night, Penn State's senior class will receive the Brookshier Spirit Award for commitment, leadership and effort in 2012.

The season began under the cloud of strict NCAA sanctions for the school's handling of the child sex abuse scandal involving retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

But Penn State finished a surprising second in the Big Ten Leaders Division behind unbeaten Ohio State.

O'Brien has also been named ESPN coach of the year.

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