Alabama Crimson Tide Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien is a hot coaching commodity in both the NFL and college football world given his work at both levels in elevating the culture around him. Thus, it’s no shock that a Big Ten program with a history of being a college football blue blood has an interest in making him a head coach once more.
Nebraska, who just relieved Scott Frost of his duties after an upset loss to Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt and a 1-2 start, has O’Brien on a short list of head coaching candidates to take over a Cornhuskers team that hasn’t been nationally relevant since Bo Pelini left Lincoln in 2012 according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.
According to Feldman, O’Brien’s prior history with Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts puts him in the driver’s seat to be the next head coach for Big Red. “O’Brien and (Nebraska athletic director) Trev Alberts have a connection dating back to O’Brien’s days as an assistant at Georgia Tech. We hear Alberts has great admiration for the rebuilding job O’Brien did at Penn State. … O’Brien displayed real leadership when he arrived in Happy Valley and helped build the foundation for a turnaround,” wrote Feldman on September 20 (subscription required).
Bill O’Brien Has a History of Stabilizing Teams
Nebraska’s issues run deep and likely involve top-down meddling from program boosters. Year in and year out under Scott Frost, the Cornhuskers’ recruiting classes finished in the top 25 — that is until this year, when the program finished No. 40.
There’s been no excuse as to why the team has lost so many games over the years, particularly during a stretch from 2021 to this season’s Week Zero opener in Dublin, Ireland, where the team went 1-9 but still had a -2 point differential.
Luckily, Bill O’Brien has entered toxic situations before and helped turn the program around. Most notably, O’Brien arrived at Penn State in the wake of Joe Paterno’s 2012 departure — one forcibly imposed due to Jerry Sandusky’s well-publicized sexual abuse of minors — and set the program up for the turnaround it has experienced under James Franklin. He also took a 2-14 Houston Texans team and led them to nine wins in each of his first three seasons in charge back in 2014-16.
Bill O’Brien Likely to Finish the Season With Alabama
Being that Bill O’Brien has been coaching at a Power Five/NFL level for 27 years and counting, his name is always one that will pop up in these types of situations. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he developed Alabama’s first Heisman quarterback in program history with Bryce Young.
Still, O’Brien understands it’s the nature of the business. “Those things come up relative to what your role is in different programs, where you’ve been,” O’Brien said at an August 7 press conference. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve had various roles in coaching, so obviously, those things come up.”
As O’Brien told the Boston Sports Journal on April 10, his commitment to Nick Saban is for two years and he plans on following through with that agreement. If the 52-year-old does decide to become a head coach again, it’ll come after the 2022 Alabama football season has concluded.