Three months after being fired by the Houston Texans, Bill O'Brien has been hired by Nick Saban as the University of Alabama's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced the news on Thursday.
O'Brien, who held both the head coach and general manager roles with the Texans, won four AFC South titles in Houston but could not overcome an 0-4 start to the 2020 season. The widely-criticized trade of WR DeAndre Hopkins before the season didn't help O'Brien's staying power either, and under interim coach Romeo Crennel, the Texans finished 4-12. O'Brien replaces Steve Sarkisian, who accepted the coaching job at the University of Texas, but remained with Alabama through its College Football Playoff championship game against Ohio State.
His task at Alabama? Just don't wreck the Ferrari. The Crimson Tide's offense was unstoppable last year in averaging 48 points and 535 yards per game despite losing four players, including QB Tua Tagovailoa, to the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. And while Heisman Trophy-winning WR DeVonta Smith and other key talents are departing for the 2021 NFL Draft, Saban's annually strong recruiting efforts have the No. 1-ranked quarterback of the 2020 class, freshman Bryce Young, awaiting O'Brien's tutelage.
O'Brien returns to the college ranks for the first time since 2014, when he left Penn State for the Texans job.
Although O'Brien has never coached on a Saban staff before, the clear tie between the two is New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. One of Saban's closest confidants since they coached together with the Cleveland Browns, Belichick had O'Brien on his coaching staff from 2007-2011, including as offensive coordinator in 2011. It's also not the first time Saban has tapped a Belichick assistant for the OC role -- he hired Brian Daboll (now the Bills' OC) from New England's staff in 2017, and Daboll's offense was part of a national championship in his only season there.