Sources: Boston College to hire Bill O’Brien as head coach
Boston College is working to reach an agreement to hire Bill O’Brien as the school’s head coach, sources told ESPN, giving the Massachusetts native the opportunity to return home and hire BC with extensive NFL experience and strong local ties.
O’Brien, who took over as offensive coordinator at Ohio State last month, had an in-person interview on Thursday, the final step in Boston College’s process. He was one of three candidates who traveled to Massachusetts for an in-person interview on Thursday, and an agreement and formal announcement are expected soon.
O’Brien is the former head coach of both Penn State and the Houston Texans, and is well-known locally in Boston for his stints with the New England Patriots. He coached there from 2007-11 and again in 2023 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
O’Brien has extensive ties to the area, having grown up locally in Andover. One of his sons, Michael, plays college basketball at nearby Tufts. His family had planned to stay in the greater Boston area while he worked in Columbus, according to sources, and this opportunity allows him to be closer to his family more.
O’Brien’s wife, Colleen, is a Boston College graduate. It’s one of many ties he has to the school and area, as he graduated from St. John’s High School. John’s Prep in Danvers and played football at nearby Brown University. O’Brien began his coaching career at Brown.
O’Brien takes over from Jeff Hafley, who left last week to become the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator. Boston College went 7-6 in 2023 with a win over No. 24 SMU in the Fenway Bowl.
O’Brien has a strong reputation as a quarterback mentor, having worked with Bryce Young (as Alabama’s offensive coordinator), Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson during some of their best seasons.
He’s got a job where BC hasn’t excelled at the national level in recent years. BC has not won eight games since 2009 and has been ranked nationally for just one season since 2008.
O’Brien left New England after his first stint as head coach at Penn State in 2012, taking over in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault case and finding success on the field and galvanizing the program off the field. In 2012, he won Big Ten Coach of the Year and Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year. He went 15-9 in two seasons there.
O’Brien served six full seasons and part of a seventh as head coach of the Texans, leading them to four playoff appearances and going 52-48. O’Brien’s most recent college experience, before attending Ohio State, came at Alabama. He served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during Young’s Heisman Trophy season.
Alabama finished in the top 10 in scoring in O’Brien’s two seasons as offensive coordinator. The Tide averaged 39.9 points and 41.1 points. O’Brien’s quarterback knowledge and NFL experience should make Boston College an attractive spot in the transfer market.
O’Brien’s departure opens up one of the most interesting offensive coordinator jobs in the sport, as OSU coach Ryan Day said in a press conference this week that he will step down in 2024.