Over the past few months, rumors of Bill O’Brien leaving the Alabama program have been circling, and on Tuesday it was announced he was on his way back to New England to serve in the same role.
With the combination of O’Brien’s contract with Alabama set to expire in February and the opening for the New England Patriots offensive coordinator position, it was a matter of when, not if, Bill O’Brien would be the next Patriots offensive coordinator.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that O’Brien would indeed be leaving the Crimson Tide and taking on the offensive coordinator position for the Patriots. While O’Brien may be leaving Alabama, he will still be calling plays for another Alabama quarterback, Mac Jones.
O’Brien was Alabama’s offensive coordinator for just two seasons after taking over for Steve Sarkisian. This season, the Crimson Tide’s offense finished 11th in the nation in total offense, averaging 477 yards per game, as well as tied for fourth nationally in scoring offense with 41.1 points per game. Although O’Brien had Alabama ranked highly in both offensive categories, the lack of a dynamic offensive scheme, like under previous play callers, and the offense struggling in crucial games ultimately led the fan base to sour on Bill O’Brien.
During O’Brien’s press conference before the Sugar Bowl a month ago, the coach was asked about the rumors of him headed to New England given his connection with the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick, and O’Brien claimed he had not spoken to any Patriots personnel since April.
"I mean, I just - I talk - I have a lot of coaching friends in the NFL," O'Brien said. "So yeah, there are some of my closest friends. But relative to working in the NFL, no. Relative to working here, like I said, I love it here. I love my experience here. I'm very focused on this game coming up, and then whatever conversations happen after this game, those will take place when they take place. But really just focused on this game and doing as good a job as I can with the players and the coaching staff to have a productive offense on Saturday."
In the same press conference, O’Brien was asked about his experience at Alabama, and he praised how great of an experience it had been being able to learn under Nick Saban.
“I've loved it,” said O'Brien of his experience at Alabama. “I've loved coaching these guys. I've loved being a part of this staff. These guys work really hard. Those of you that follow us day in and day out, I'm sure you see the work that goes in. These kids, they practice hard. They lift hard. They go to class. They do things the right way. And I think it's been a great experience for me the last two years to be here to see how it all works. And then being able to see how Coach Saban does has been a great experience for me. It's an invaluable experience. And then working with the staff, working with the offensive staff. And then when we cross over, we work with the defensive staff, that's been a great experience for me.”
With the departure of Bill O’Brien, Nick Saban will be tasked with hiring his ninth offensive coordinator since taking over the Alabama program in 2007.
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