Former Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien is a leading candidate to replace Steve Sarkisian as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, and head coach Nick Saban spoke highly of O’Brien when he virtually spoke to Houston media ahead of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards banquet.
“I’ve known Bill O’Brien for a long, long time, all the way back when he was an assistant at Georgia Tech with George O’Leary,” Saban said Wednesday, according to SportsRadio 610.
“I think when he was with Bill Belichick at the New England Patriots — who I think everybody knows the relationship that we have with Bill — he was the offensive coordinator there. Went to Penn State in probably the most trying times of any great program, coming off of a lot of crazy stuff, and he did an outstanding job of sort of rebuilding that program, getting players to stay there, having a real representative positive program.
“And I think he did a really good job in Houston when he was the head coach. I think when he became the general manager maybe things didn’t go exactly like he would’ve liked, trying to have both roles. But having been a head coach in that league, I know how difficult it is to do both of those things — probably impossible. So based on the body of work up until then, I think he’s an outstanding coach and a really good person. He’s got a great family.
“And I think he’ll do a great job with our players here. I’ve always tried to have the best knowledge and experience I can for our players and their development, and I certainly think he can contribute to that in a very positive way.”
O’Brien was back in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, according to BamaOnLine publisher Tim Watts, after also having spent time at the Crimson Tide facility prior to the CFP National Championship Game. O’Brien was fired as head coach and general manager of the Texans after a 0-4 start to the 2020-21 season. He spent the last seven seasons as Houston’s coach.
O’Brien last coached in college as the head coach at Penn State in 2012-13. He took on the task of replacing Joe Paterno in Happy Valley after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to a 15-9 record before he moved on to coach the Texans in the NFL.
In addition to Penn State, O’Brien has experience as a coordinator at the college level at both Georgia Tech (2001-02) and Duke (2005-06). He also served as an offensive position coach at Georgia Tech, Maryland (2003-04) and his collegiate alma mater, Brown (1993-94).
Alabama has not officially announced a hire as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We always let you know those things when they happen,” Saban said Tuesday. “I can’t make any predictions about our staff. I think we have a wonderful staff. I like the chemistry on our staff. We’re happy for Sark. I don’t know what other opportunities will be out there for our coaches. We’ll just have to wait and see. I can’t answer that. It’s an ongoing process for us to find the right offensive coordinator. We’re certainly in the process of doing that.”
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