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Bill O’Brien talks remaining at Alabama: ‘I made a commitment to Coach Saban’

Bill O'Brien watches warmups ahead of national championship
Photo by Cedric Mason Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Every offseason when teams look to fill their vacant head coaching positions, Alabama’s staff is a popular breeding ground for teams to find its next lead dog. Last season was no different as offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien was linked to several jobs, particularly in the NFL.

O’Brien drew interest primarily from the Jacksonville Jaguars who brought him in to interview following the team’s loss in the national championship game. Ahead of his time at Alabama, O’Brien was the head coach of the Houston Texans for seven seasons and also served as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots prior to that.

When accepting a position with the Crimson Tide it doesn’t take long for high-profile jobs to start calling and inquiring ultimately making each coach’s stay brief. But O’Brien is back once again as the team’s play-caller and during his media availability on Sunday highlighted his commitment to Nick Saban.

“I made a commitment to Coach Saban,” O’Brien said. “You know, those things come up relative to what your role is in different programs. Where you’ve been. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve had various roles in coaching so obviously those things come up. But I’ve made a commitment to Coach Saban and I love coaching here. The players, the coaching staff, like — it’s been a really good experience. I’ve learned a lot and I’m very appreciative to coach for giving me this opportunity.”

Throughout his first season in Tuscaloosa, fans were divided on O’Brien as a play caller but the numbers the offense was able to generate would be considered a resounding success. He helped produce the seventh-most yards per game in college football, two 1,000-yard receivers and aided Bryce Young in becoming the first quarterback in the history of the program to win the Heisman Trophy.

While having an immense amount of talent to work with like Young, it was the combination with working under Saban which originally attracted O’Brien to accept the position with the Crimson Tide. So when O’Brien became a free agent in the coaching world it wasn’t an opportunity he felt like he could pass up.

“It was one of those things where — when you get fired in coaching you find out really right away that maybe you don’t have as many friends as you thought you did have,” O’Brien said. “I think when Coach Saban reached out to me and talked to me about this job, while they were getting ready for the national championship game, I didn’t feel like, as I talked about with my wife Colleen and our family, I didn’t think it was anything that I could pass up. To have the opportunity to work for the greatest college coach of all time, arguably one of the greatest coaches of any sport, I don’t think you could pass that up.

“To learn from him. To come into this program and see how he does things. To be an offensive coordinator again with a lot of great players and a great coaching staff. That wasn’t anything that I could pass up.”

It’s unclear whether O’Brien’s tenure at Alabama will stretch further into the future or if a new coaching opportunity will present itself. But what’s for certain is that O’Brien holds his experience on Saban’s staff dearly and will carry the lessons he’s learned into whatever future is ahead.

“If I’m fortunate enough to have (a head coaching) opportunity again, and who knows if that will come down the pike, this will be an amazingly invaluable experience for me,” O’Brien said. “Because you’re able to watch coach every single day. Work with us as a coaching staff, work with the players, work with the support staff. And you know, the process is something that he talks about a lot, and you learn about the different processes within the program. And I think that’s something that has been invaluable to me and it’s something that I’ll hold dear to me for the rest of my career, this experience here.”

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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77

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