O’Brien was at the Alabama football complex on Wednesday. He also spent time with the team last week leading up to the college football playoff national championship game.
Saban was asked about O’Brien on Wednesday at a Zoom press conference leading up to the announcement of the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award, which Saban won later on Wednesday night.
Saban praised O’Brien’s work and called him an exceptional coach, and although Saban has not officially announced O’Brien as Alabama’s new offensive coordinator, he said that O’Brien “would do a great job with our players here. ”
Saban added: “I have always tried to have the best possible knowledge and experience for our players and their development, and I certainly think [O’Brien] can contribute in a very positive way. ”
O’Brien, who also served as general manager of the Texans last year, was fired four games in the 2020 season. This is after leading the Texans to playoff appearances in four of his first six seasons at Houston.
O’Brien, 51, replaces Steve Sarkisian, who left Alabama to take on the role of head coach in Texas.
Although his most recent coaching experience was in the NFL, O’Brien also has a long history of coaching in college. He served as Penn State’s head coach in 2012-13, helping to rebuild the program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and subsequent NCAA sanctions. O’Brien was Duke’s offensive coordinator in 2005-06 and Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator in 2001-02.
Similar to Saban, O’Brien also has a close connection to Bill Belichick and coached under Belichick with the New England Patriots for five seasons from 2007-2011, the last season as the Patriots offensive coordinator.
O’Brien will be Saban’s seventh offensive coordinator, returning to Jim McElwain, who left after the 2011 season to take the position of Colorado State head coach.
Saban also has an offensive line position to fill in his squad, as Kyle Flood goes with Sarkisian to Texas to be the Longhorns offensive coordinator / coach for the Longhorns offensive line, sources have confirmed to ESPN.