The job too tempting to pass up has proven to be all that Bill O’Brien imagined it would be.
The veteran coach was a few months removed from his job at the Houston Texans after beginning the 2020 season with four consecutive losses. He got a call in December of that year from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, gauging his interest in the offensive coordinator position that was soon-to-be vacated by soon-to-be Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian.
“It was one of those things, where, when you get fired in coaching, you find out right away that maybe you don’t have as many friends as you thought you did have,” O’Brien said during a press conference on Sunday. “When Coach Saban reached out to me and talked to me about this job, they were getting ready for the national championship game.
"As I talked about it with my wife, Colleen, and our family, I didn’t feel like that was anything I could pass up, to have the opportunity to work for the greatest college coach of all time, arguably one of the greatest coaches of any sport. To learn from him, to come into this program and see how he does things, to be an offensive coordinator again with a lot of great players and a great coaching staff, that wasn’t anything I could pass up.”
How did that first year go?
His quarterback, Bryce Young, won the Heisman Trophy. His offense, which had to reload after losing some big-time playmakers following the 2020 national championship season, averaged 488 yards and 42 points per game. Jameson Williams developed into one of the most explosive receivers in the country.
“This has proven to be a very special place to coach,” O’Brien said. “Obviously, the coaching staff, led by Coach Saban, the players here, the support staff, it’s really top notch. It’s really been a great experience for me over the last year and a half.”
O’Brien was asked why he came back for a second season. With his coaching resume, which includes head coaching stops at Penn State and with the Texans, he could have been an intriguing option for many job openings.
“Those things come up, relative to what your role is in different programs, where you’ve been,” O’Brien said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time and I’ve had various roles in coaching. But I’ve made a commitment to Coach Saban. I love coaching here, the players, the coaching staff; it’s been a really good experience. I’ve learned a lot. I’m very appreciative that Coach Saban has given me this opportunity.”
Now he’s retooling an offense once again. Young returns to lead the way but there are a bunch of new weapons to fit into the offense during fall camp.
“Offensively, obviously we have a lot to replace from last year,” O’Brien said. “When you think about the guys that aren’t here anymore, some of those guys are on to the NFL. Obviously, with Bryce back, that is a very good thing. We have an excellent quarterback, but when you lose guys like Evan Neal and you lose guys like Jameson Williams and John Metchie, you have to find out who can replace those guys. It’s very early in camp and we’re finding that out.”
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email email@example.com.
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.