Bill O’Brien denied that he was in talks with the New England Patriots to become their new offensive coordinator during a December 28 press conference — instead reaffirming his commitment to Alabama football ahead of their Sugar Bowl matchup with Kansas State on New Year’s eve.
O’Brien claimed the last time he spoke to anyone from the Patriots was in April. “It’s kind of that time of year when things come up and things pop up,” the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator said. “I haven’t spoken to anybody in New England since probably last April when I went by and saw those guys when I was up there. I wish them well in their last however many games they have left. We’re very focused on this game and focused on coaching this team to the best of our ability.”
O’Brien suggested he has tunnel vision relating to Alabama’s upcoming Sugar Bowl matchup. “I love it here,” he said. “I love my experience here. I am very focused on this game coming up. Whatever conversations happen after this game, those will take place when they take place. Really just focused on this game and doing as good of a job as I can with the players and coaching staff to have a productive offense on Saturday.”
Bill O’Brien Leaving Alabama Football for Patriots Is Likely
It’s not a secret that many Alabama football fans would like to see Nick Saban find new offensive and defensive coordinators over the offseason. It appears that they may get at least half of their wish fulfilled.
According to WEEI’s Tom E. Curran, Bill O’Brien re-joining the New England Patriots — where he held four different positions from 2007 to 2011 — is “probably going to happen:”
“Folks who are knowledgeable in this that I reached out to in the last couple of days who would have insight, I said, ‘Would Bill [Belichick] want Bill O’Brien?’ Because that question has really not been asked. There’s a perception that, ‘Hey, it’s a done deal. Of course Bill would want him back.’ But I asked and the individual said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Since serving a Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator on the AFC Champion 2011 Patriots, O’Brien has been a head coach twice — first as Penn State’s Joe Paterno replacement in 2012 and 2013, and then later as the Houston Texans head coach from 2014-2020.
Analyst Doesn’t Feel Bill O’Brien Criticism Is Totally Fair
With the Sugar Bowl likely to serve as Bill O’Brien’s swan song with Alabama football, many are eulogizing his time in Tuscaloosa with regrets, rampant criticism, and opinions that he squandered the talent he was given. AL.com’s Joseph Goodman questioned whether that was fair in a December 29 piece.
“If this is it for Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator at Alabama, then he’ll go down as the guy who didn’t win a national championship with Bryce Young at quarterback,” he wrote. “That’s probably an unfair punch in the face, and this is the holiday season so it feels especially unnecessary to be overly critical of a guy who the Alabama players love and who is such a nice guy, but when has anything been fair, or even rational, about criticisms of Alabama football?”
Fair or not, those criticisms likely had little to do with O’Brien’s likely impending departure. As a former head coach who resurrected Penn State and the Houston Texans, there was always going to be a ready-made raise for O’Brien when his two-year contract to be Nick Saban’s offensively-focused underling concluded.