Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian took the vacant head coaching job at Texas earlier this month, which left a hole in the Crimson Tide coaching staff headed into the 2021 college football season. That vacancy is in the process of being filled.
Bill O’Brien, the former coach of the Houston Texans and Penn State Nittany Lions, is ‘finalizing’ a deal to be named Sarkisian’s successor, according to ESPN’s Chris Low. The Athletic first reported before kickoff of the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday that O’Brien would be Alabama’s next offensive coordinator.
Taking the job will mark O’Brien’s return to the college sidelines for the first time since 2013, when he finished up the second of his two seasons as coach at Penn State. The Nittany Lions finished fourth in the Big Ten in total offense in both of those seasons and in the top three in passing offense. He won Paul “Bear” Bryant award and Maxwell Coach of the Year following an 8-4 campaign in the first season since the departure of Joe Paterno.
That, of course, will come in handy in the pass-happy Alabama offense that has evolved since coach Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin to run the unit prior to the 2014 season. O’Brien has plenty of college football experience under his belt. He made stops as an assistant coach at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke from 1993-2006.
It had been reported last week that O’Brien was in Tuscaloosa with the Alabama coaching staff, and he was reportedly back in town this week. Ex-New York Jets coach Adam Gase was also a candidate for the position. O’Brien was fired by the Texans following an 0-4 start to the 2020 NFL season.