The Bill O'Brien Era: The Highlights

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

Bill O'Brien's tenure as Penn State head coach was 44 years less than his predecessor. Despite its briefness, the O'Brien era was an eventful two years that offered many memorable moments.

January 7, 2012- Introductory Press Conference
Nittany Nation was none too pleased with the announcement of Bill O'Brien as Penn State's new head coach. Fans were expecting a splashy hire, and instead were given a little-known NFL offensive coordinator. O'Brien knocked it out of the park during his first chance to address the Penn State community, winning over many fans who were cursing his hire just a few hours earlier. The highlight of the press conference was his announcement that he would retain defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden. He gave a signal that he wasn't going to completely disregard Penn State's past by keeping two wildly successful assistants from the Paterno era.

March 10, 2012- Adam Breneman's Commitment
Although Breneman's commitment wasn't a huge shock to Penn State fans, it sent the clear message that O'Brien was capable of bringing the best of the best to play in State College. The commitment of the top tight end in the nation demonstrated that Penn State Football was far from dead, as many around the country had predicted.

September 15, 2012- The first victory of the O'Brien era
Penn State bounced back from two tough losses to give Bill O'Brien his first victory as head coach by dismantling Navy, 34-7. The Nittany Lions put together a complete performance that put the team in the right direction for a surprising finish to a historic season.

October 6, 2012- Penn State upsets Northwestern
After the media machine roundly predicted Penn State would only win two or three games all season, the Nittany Lions upset the number 24 team in the nation thanks to a wild 4th quarter comeback. This game signaled that Penn State would be a force in the Big Ten, despite all the predictions to the contrary.

November 4, 2012- Penn State defeats Wisconsin to finish 8-4
Without their emotional leader and top defensive player, Penn State found a way to out-slug Wisconsin in a classic Big Ten battle. This game will live on forever in Penn State lore as the team sent off a group of seniors who stayed committed to finish what they started when they could have left for seemingly greener pastures at any college of their choosing.

October 12, 2013- Penn State upsets Michigan in stunning fashion
Both teams made plenty of mistakes, but Penn State made the plays they needed to in the clutch while Michigan did what they needed to give the game away. I have seen many incredible games in Beaver Stadium, but never anything with this type of emotional turnover. This was a homecoming victory that no Penn State fan will soon forget.

November 30, 2013- Penn State ruins Wisconsin's BCS hopes as a 23.5 point underdog
If anyone is happy about O'Brien's departure, it's Wisconsin. For the second consecutive season, Penn State defeated Wisconsin to close out the season on a high note. No one outside of the Penn State locker room thought they had a chance to stay close with the red-hot Badgers, but the Nittany Lions put together their finest performance of the season for an improbable 31-24 victory.

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