Penn State's Bill O'Brien is one of 18 coaches on the Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award watch list released today.
O'Brien, who was hired as Joe Paterno's permanent successor last January, has guided Penn State to a 6-4 record in the aftermath of major NCAA sanctions levied against the school.
The Nittany Lions meet Indiana on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
The 43-year-old O'Biren is the only first-year head coach on the watch list. Finalists will be selected next month. The award will be presented at a dinner on Jan. 17 in Houston.
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Paterno was the award's first recipient in 1986.
Other coaches on the watch list: Duke's David Cutcliffe, Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Oregon's Chip Kelly, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Florida's Will Muschamp, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Georgia's Mark Richt, Oregon State's Mike Riley, Alabama's Nick Saban, Stanford's David Shaw, Kansas State's Bill Snyder, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Louisville's Charlie Strong, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.