O'Brien named to watch list for Bryant Coach of the Year award

Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in West Lafayette, Ind. (Darron Cummings/AP)

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has been named to the watch list for the Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award.

O’Brien, in his first season with the Nittany Lions, is one of 18 coaches named to the watch list for the honor, which will be awarded for the 27th time.

The Lions have a 6-4 record going into Saturday’s home game against Indiana but O’Brien also has had to work hard off the field in stabilizing the program in the wake of the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the resulting NCAA sanctions.

O’Brien is one of three watch list candidates – Duke’s David Cutcliffe and Boise State’s Chris Petersen are the others – who coach a team currently unranked in the Associated Press poll or the BCS standings.

A group of five to 10 finalists will be named in early December. All will be invited to the Jan. 17 dinner in Houston at which the winner of the honor will be announced. Voting is done by members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

The award is sponsored by the American Heart Association and Marathon Oil.

--Joe Juliano