Sources: BC to hire O’Brien as next head coach

Sources: BC to hire O’Brien as next head coach

McAfee likes BC hiring Bill O’Brien (0:48)

Pat McAfee and crew react to the news of Bill O’Brien becoming the head coach of Boston College. (0:48)

  • Pete Thamel, ESPNFeb 9, 2024, 11:01 AM ET

Boston College is working toward a deal to hire Bill O’Brien as the school’s next head coach, sources told ESPN, giving the coach born in Massachusetts a homecoming and the Eagles a hire with extensive NFL experience and strong local ties.

O’Brien, who took the Ohio State offensive coordinator job last month, interviewed in person Thursday, the final step in Boston College’s process. He was one of three candidates to travel to Massachusetts for interviews Thursday, and a deal and a formal announcement are expected soon.

O’Brien, 54, is the former head coach of Penn State and the Houston Texans, and he is best known around Boston for his stints with the New England Patriots. He coached there from 2007 to 2011 and again in 2023 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

O’Brien brings extensive ties to the area, as he grew up locally in Andover. One of his sons, Michael, plays college baseball 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 near his family more.

O’Brien’s wife, Colleen, is a Boston College graduate. It’s one of many ties to the school and the area, as Bill O’Brien graduated high school from St. John’s Prep in Danvers and played football at nearby Brown University. O’Brien started his coaching career at Brown.

He takes over for Jeff Hafley, who left last week to become the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. Boston College went 7-6 in 2023 with a win over No. 24 SMU in the Fenway Bowl.

O’Brien brings a strong reputation as a quarterback tutor, having worked with Bryce Young (as Alabama‘s offensive coordinator), Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson during some of their best seasons.

He enters a job where Boston College hasn’t distinguished itself nationally in recent years. The Eagles haven’t won eight games in a season since 2009 and have been nationally ranked in only one season since 2008. O’Brien’s quarterback knowledge and NFL experience should make Boston College an attractive option in the transfer market.

O’Brien left New England after his first stint for the head-coaching job at Penn State in 2012, taking over in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault case and bringing success on the field as well as 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 at Penn State.

O’Brien worked six full seasons and part of a seventh as head coach of the Texans, where he led them to four playoff appearances and went 52-48.

O’Brien’s most recent college experience, before Ohio State, came at Alabama. He worked as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during Young’s Heisman Trophy season.

Alabama finished in the top 10 in scoring offense in both of O’Brien’s seasons as offensive coordinator, averaging 39.9 points and 41.1 points per game.

O’Brien’s departure opens up one of the most intriguing offensive coordinator jobs in the sport, as Ohio State coach Ryan Day said in a news conference this week that he is giving up playcalling in 2024.


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