On Thursday night, January 21st, like any college student home on break I found myself scrolling through instagram when I saw all the posts about the official hiring of Bill O’Brien as Alabama’s new Offensive Coordinator. The hire had been rumored for weeks, but it was finally official, the recently unemployed head coach and general manager of the Houston Texans will be joining Nick Saban’s staff in Tuscaloosa. I immediately sent the announcement to one of my good friends from the Houston area and he instantly sent back two words: “good luck.” This seemed like an understandable remark from a Texans fan, the way Bill’s time in Houston ended was UGLY…but was this comment accurate?
I fully understand a bitter taste in the mouth of NFL fans regarding Bill O’Brien. I can’t in my lifetime recall a worse handling of an NFL team. It was almost as if he was eying a job at Bama and trying to get fired?? (jk we ain’t got time for conspiracies here) But seriously, what the h*ck was Bill doing with the Texans? How he went from leading the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs 24-0 in the playoffs to getting fired after the 4th game of the season in UNDER A YEAR is astonishing. How did this fall from grace happen? Well the winless start to the season didn’t help, his overall 54-52 record at Houston is decisively mediocre, but what really did him in was the offseason. The top of the list in many Texans fans eyes is the trade of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth round pick for David Johnson, a second round pick, and a fourth round pick. As if getting rid of a star receiver for a measly return isn’t bad enough, the draft stock of the Texan’s was so depleted, a reload looked impossible. All of these factors boiled over to make O’Brien just the third coach this decade to be fired before week 5 of an NLF season.
Let’s look at this hire from Alabama’s perspective for a moment now. Sure Bama has been dominant, but a stat that makes this even more impressive is O’Brien will be the fifth offensive coordinator in SIX YEARS! The turnover rate of assistant coaches for the Crimson Tide is a long list, but beyond that, it’s an impressive list. In 2020 Alabama’s coaching staff included 5 former head coaches from FBS and and NFL teams, so the Bill O’Brien hire is not an unheard of event for Saban. And the good news for Bill? Saban’s coaching rehab center leads to some great hires. Steve Sarkisian leaving for Texas made him the eighth assistant from Saban’s time at Alabama to leave for a head coaching job. He takes them in bruised and beaten, fixes them up then sends them out with enough skills to be successful, but not enough to take down the master, as he is 22-0 against them.
So is the Bill O’Brien hire the right move for Alabama? Time will tell, but my gosh y’all, Saban has won six national championships in 12 years, and he refers to O’Brien as “one of the brightest offensive minds in football, an outstanding teacher, and and excellent recruiter.” Until the GOAT gives me any reason to think otherwise, I’m going to go with what he says. Let’s just be glad O’Brien doesn’t have the ability to trade any of the players away.