Penn State's Bill O'Brien finalist for Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year

The media has spoken, and now the fans will have their say too. 

Bill O'Brien was one of the top coaches in the country this season. But was he the best? 

On Tuesday, the 43-year-old was named one of 10 finalists as the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, which "recognizes coaches who demonstrate sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence both on and off the field."

Yesterday O'Brien, who led the bowl-ineligible Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record despite unprecedented circumstances, was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). 

The Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year will be announced on Jan. 7, prior to the BCS Champoonship game. The winner will receive a $50,000 check to donate to the charity of his choice as well as a $20,000 scholarship for the school's alumni association.

Other finalists for the award are: Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Jim Mora, Jr. (UCLA), Mark Richt (Georgia), Nick Saban (Alabama), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Charlie Strong (Louisville), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).

The winner is chosen by calculating several factors. Here is the breakdown: 20 percent is fan voting, 55 percent is College Football Hall of Fame voting and 25 percent is media voting.

It's early, but the fans seem to be in O'Brien's favor. As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, O'Brien led with more than 23,700 votes. The second highest vote-getter was Snyder, who had a hair more than 15,600 votes. No other candidate had more than 7,000 votes.

-Emily Kaplan

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