In this particular case, Penn State's scars trumped Ohio State's perfection.
By achieving success when little was expected, Bill O'Brien swept the Big Ten Coach of the Year awards on Tuesday, beating out Urban Meyer, who led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record.
The honors capped off a day that began with O'Brien publicly reaffirming his commitment to the Nittany Lions.
O'Brien won both the coaches' vote for the Hayes-Schembechler Award and the media vote for the Dave McClain Award, topping a fellow Big Ten rookie in Meyer.
A fantastic honor. It's very humbling, O'Brien said on the Big Ten Network's awards show. Any time you are named coach of the year, it has a lot to do with two groups of people – it's your coaching staff and obviously your players.
We have a great coaching staff that did a nice job of keeping everything together and teaching our players. And our players did a great job of going out there every week and playing as hard as they could. It's an honor for our program.
After starting the year 0-2, O'Brien and the Lions won eight of their last 10 games and went 6-2 in Big Ten play to finish second in the Leaders Division behind Ohio State.
While the awards came for past accomplishments, O'Brien was back to talking about his future earlier on Tuesday.
In his first interview after closing out his debut season, O'Brien told 790-AM The Zone in Atlanta that he expects to lead the Lions in 2013.
Oh, I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State. That's my plan, and that's what I intend to do, O'Brien said when asked if he would entertain offers from the NFL this winter.
Joe Linta, O'Brien's agent, was even more adamant that O'Brien will stick with Penn State.
He's staying, and we've had no conversations with anyone else, Linta told ESPN. In fact, he's leaving at 6 in the morning (today) to go out on the recruiting trail.
Earlier this month, O'Brien twice refused to comment on his future beyond 2012, saying that he wanted to keep the focus on the team and the Lions' final games.
The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator has not been linked to any NFL teams, but several head coaching jobs are expected to come open over the next two months.
O'Brien has eight years remaining on his contract with Penn State, with any buyout this offseason costing nearly $10 million.
But after the Lions knocked off Wisconsin in overtime Saturday, O'Brien began discussing his upcoming schedule. It began with personal sitdowns with each of his players and will continue with today's opening recruiting trip.
It's not gonna be easy, O'Brien said of transitioning to 2013 after losing nine senior starters. Every year is different. We had a team meeting (Monday) and we told the team, ‘Look – the '13 team has to create its own identity. That has to start right now. We can't just duplicate what the '12 team did. Every team is different.'
It won't be easy going forward, but I know this – we have a lot of good players on this football team.
Joining O'Brien on Tuesday's honor roll was defensive end Deion Barnes, who was named the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year in the conference.
Barnes, who led the Lions in sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (10.0), is the first Penn State player to win the award since tailback Curtis Enis in 1995.
It's a great honor … being recognized as freshman of the year, Barnes said on the Big Ten Network awards show. It feels great right now.
The Philadelphia native credited the senior class, especially fellow defensive end Sean Stanley, for helping him along after redshirting in 2011.
They gave 100 percent everyday – at practice, in the film room, wherever, Barnes said. Their attitude was tremendous.
Both Barnes and tight end Kyle Carter were named to the Big Ten's All-Freshman team Tuesday morning.
Quarterback Matt McGloin, meanwhile, was named one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the country's top player who began his career as a walk-on.
The senior from Scranton broke several career and single-season Penn State records in 2012 while leading the Big Ten in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
The winner will be announced on Monday.
He's a tough kid, a competitive kid, O'Brien said. Really a smart guy. He worked at it and, knock on wood, he stayed healthy for the most part. And every week he got better. He didn't throw many interceptions and he threw a lot of touchdown passes. He managed the game well.
I'm really proud of the kid and how far he came. ... It's a testament to him.