O'Brien credited his staff and players for Penn State's success this season.
O'Brien, in his first season at the helm of the Nittany Lions, guided his team to eight wins in its final 10 games and an overall record of 8-4 and 6-2 in Big Ten play, all the while dealing with unprecedented NCAA sanctions against the program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
"It's obviously very humbling," O'Brien said on the conference's award show. "There's two groups of people you have to talk about when it comes to coach of the year awards. It's our coaching staff and our group of players. I can't say enough about what our coaches did and helping keeping this thing moving forward and then obviously what our players did on the field. We weren't an undefeated team, but we sure had a bunch of kids who played tough, hard football all year. It was fun to coach them."
Barnes, who earned honorable mention on both the coaches and media teams the day before, led the Nittany Lions with six sacks and had 10 tackles for loss. He is the first Lion to earn conference freshman of the year honors since Curtis Enis in 1995.
Ohio State defensive end John Simon was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year, beating out Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti, among others, while Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year.