Boston College is working toward a deal to hire Bill O'Brien as the school's next head coach, sources told ESPN, hiring the Massachusetts native with extensive NFL experience and strong local ties back home to BC.
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 is one of three candidates who will travel to Massachusetts for in-person interviews Thursday, and both a contract and a formal announcement are expected soon.
O'Brien, 54, is a former head coach at both Penn State and the Houston Texans, and is well known locally around Boston for his work with the New England Patriots. He coached there from 2007-2011 and as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2023.
Having grown up locally in Andover, O'Brien brings extensive ties to the area. One of his sons, Michael, plays college basketball at nearby Tufts. According to sources, his family had planned to stay in the Greater Boston area while he worked in Columbus, and the opportunity allows him to be close to his family.
O'Brien's wife, Colleen, is a graduate of Boston College. He graduated high school from St. John's Prep in Danvers and played football at nearby Brown University. O'Brien began his coaching career at Brown.
O'Brien takes over for Jeff Hafley, who left last week as the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator. No. in the Fenway Bowl in 2023. 24 Boston College went 7-6 with a win over SMU.
O'Brien brings a strong reputation as a quarterback mentor, having worked with Bryce Young (as Alabama's offensive coordinator), Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson over some great seasons.
He enters a job where BC has not distinguished itself nationally in recent years. BC has been winless in eight games since 2009 and has only been nationally ranked in one season since 2008.
O'Brien left New England after his first stint as head coach at Penn State in 2012, taking over after the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault lawsuit and bringing success on the field and improving the program off the field. In 2012, he won both 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 as the Texans head coach for six full seasons and part of a seventh, 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 served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during Young's Heisman Trophy season.
Alabama finished in the top 10 in scoring during 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 destination on the transfer market.
O'Brien's departure opens up one of the most intriguing offensive coordinator jobs in sports, as OSU coach Ryan Day said at a news conference this week that he will forgo playing in 2024.