The New England Patriots reportedly were among teams interested in Bill O’Brien this offseason, but the former NFL head coach opted to remain in the college ranks and now is getting set for the 2022 campaign with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
O’Brien weighed in on those previous reports and speculation linking him to NFL teams.
“I made a commitment to coach (Nick) Saban,” O’Brien told reporters Sunday, per Crimson Tide reporter Mike Rodak.
O’Brien was thought to be a suitor to take over New England’s offensive coordinator role after Josh McDaniels became the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. O’Brien also interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching position and was piquing the interest of the Carolina Panthers when it came to their offensive coordinator role, according to multiple reports.
O’Brien, as he stated himself, chose not to pursue NFL interests due to his commitment to Saban. Similarly, Bill Belichick’s close relationship with Saban caused him not to pursue O’Brien, Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard reported in April.
“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 in reference to choosing Alabama, per Rodak.
O’Brien was fired by the Houston Texans four games into the 2020 campaign. He coached seven seasons in Houston starting in 2014 with one season as New England’s offensive coordinator in 2011.
The 52-year-old O’Brien called Saban one of the greatest coaches of any sport, and while he didn’t shut down the idea of returning to the NFL in the future, he continued to express he made the right decision.
“This will be an amazingly invaluable experience to me,” O’Brien said.
The Patriots do not have anyone labeled as their official offensive coordinator entering their own 2022 campaign. However, reports coming out of training camp suggest Matt Patricia is in line to call plays for Mac Jones and company. Patricia is listed as an offensive line coach and senior football advisor with Joe Judge referred to as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach.