Alabama football might need a new offensive coordinator next season.
In 1993, the Dorchester, Massachusetts native spent two years as an assistant at his alma mater, Brown, where he played defensive back and linebacker, before taking a graduate assistant job at Georgia Tech.
O’Brien spent seven seasons on staff in Atlanta with the Yellow Jackets, receiving two promotions during his time. In 1998, he was promoted from GA to running backs coach before being promoted again three seasons later, in 2001, to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Will he go back to his roots and return to Georgia Tech as its next head coach?
Before hiring a new head football coach, the University must hire a new athletic director after school president Angel Cabrera fired Todd Stansbury, who served his alma mater for six years, on September 26, a day after Collins’ dismissal.
However, O’Brien is one of six primary targets the athletic department identified as potential replacements, according to a report by 247Sports.
“O’Brien also has extensive prior ties to Georgia Tech and would completely understand what the job involves,” the report said.
Adding to 247Sports’ reporting, ESPN’s Pete Thamel echoed O’Brien’s name as a candidate.
Alabama had the 5th-best scoring offense in college football last season, averaging 39.3 points per game. Four weeks into his second season, O’Brien’s offense averages 48.3 points per game, again at 5th overall.
Can the Crimson Tide hang on to their vastly experienced offensive coordinator?
Is O’Brien’s Departure Inevitable After the 2022 Season?
O’Brien’s rich experience makes him an intriguing candidate beyond just Georgia Tech.
His 28 years of coaching experience without ever taking a year off is impressive, regardless of the pedigree of his position.
Add in the fact that he spent two seasons as a head coach in the Big Ten at Penn State and seven as a head coach in the NFL with the Texans, and his resume stacks up with any candidate.
The 52-year-old should have his options this offseason.
Still, nine weeks from the conclusion of college football’s regular season, more vacancies will open, meaning more opportunities for Alabama’s OC.
However, O’Brien is also a candidate for NFL head coaching vacancies this offseason.
Nick Saban Is No Stranger to Replacing Successful Coordinators
Alabama knows what it’s like to replace assistant coaches.
Since Saban took over in Tuscaloosa, eight different offensive coordinators have called plays at Bryant-Denny Stadium under Saban.
Seven of the eight former coordinators are current, or former head coaches, six of whom became head coaches at a Power Five school or in the NFL.
Brian Daboll (Giants), Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss), Mike Locksley (Maryland), and Steve Sarkisian (Texas) are among them.
Dating back to 2014, when Saban named Kiffin as the program’s OC, each of his replacements (except for Sarkisian in 2018) left to be a head coach, making the position desirable, promising, and developing for any candidate.
If and when O’Brien decides to take a promotion elsewhere, Saban should have no problems identifying and hiring his successor.