Buzz may be building around Bill O'Brien and his chance to become national coach of the year, but he tried his best Tuesday to deflect that talk.
"That's, um -- you know, we're 4-2, and we have murderer's row coming up here," he said during the weekly Big Ten teleconference. "So there's a lot of great coaches in this country. I've only coached six games my whole career, so that's the farthest thing from my mind."
After dropping the first two games, the Nittany Lions have rebounded by winning their last four -- including Saturday's 39-28 upset win over a ranked Northwestern team. That streak has come from an offense that was hit hard by the sanctions, returned just one regular starter and is still somehow outscoring last season's squad by nearly eight points a game.
In typical O'Brien fashion, he offered praise to his staff and his players Tuesday while remarking how different the job has been from the NFL.
"Having never been a head coach, it's kind of like drinking water from a fire hose," O'Brien said. "Something happens new every day, and you just have to budget your time and do the best you can. We have a veteran staff that has done an excellent job of coaching these kids, and that really helps when you're a brand-new head coach."
Fans, media and other coaches have been much quicker in lauding O'Brien's performance to this point. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald praised O'Brien for doing a "terrific job," and Penn State earned a vote in this week's Associated Press poll. That voter, the Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt, tweeted earlier this week how impressed he's been with O'Brien's squad.
"I know Ohio beat them but can't think of any team who has overcome more to be 4-2," Hurt wrote.