Boston College is working toward a deal to hire Bill O’Brien as the school’s next head coach, sources told ESPN, giving the Massachusetts native a homecoming and BC a hire with both extensive NFL experience and strong local ties.
O’Brien, who took the Ohio State offensive coordinator job last month, interviewed in person on Thursday, the final step in Boston College’s process. He was one of three candidates to travel to Massachusetts to interview in person Thursday, and a deal and formal announcement are both expected soon.
O’Brien, 54, is the former head coach of both Penn State and the Houston Texans, and he’s best known locally around Boston for his stints with the New England Patriots. He coached there from 2007-2011 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 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 near his family more.
O’Brien’s wife, Colleen, is a Boston College graduate. It’s one of many ties to the school and area, as he 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 enters a job where BC hasn’t distinguished itself nationally in recent years. BC hasn’t won eight games since 2009 and has been nationally ranked only one season since 2008.
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 both success on the field and galvanizing the program off the field. In 2012, he won both Big Ten Coach of the Year and the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year. He went 15-9 in two seasons there.
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, prior to 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. The Tide averaged 39.9 points and 41.1 points. O’Brien’s quarterback knowledge and NFL experience should make Boston College an attractive place in the transfer market.
O’Brien’s departure opens up one of the most intriguing offensive coordinator jobs in the sport, as OSU coach Ryan Day said in a news conference this week that he’s giving up playcalling in 2024.