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Bill O'Brien explains the significance of Nick Saban being willing to hire former head coaches

Griffin McVeigh08/09/22
Bill O'Brien
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Nick Saban has a long history of hiring former head coaches to his staff after being let go of their jobs. Both college and NFL coaches have joined Alabama to get back on the right track, with Bill O’Brien being one of the latest. O’Brien has been serving as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator after being fired by the Houston Texans and is entering his second year.

O’Brien recently discussed the trend of Saban hiring former head coaches, saying helping the Alabama players improve is the main reason behind the strategy. O’Brien says it’s been “great” to be part of the program and is looking forward to getting Year Two officially underway on Sept. 3.

“What it says about Coach Saban to hire guys that have run programs before is that he is very confident in his own ability,” said O’Brien. “He wants to hire what he believes in the best of the best out there. Whatever it is. Coaches, support staff around him. And he wants to make sure he’s doing everything he can to help the players get better.

“I think when you see his track record of who he’s hired here. He’s had some great staffs here and he’s very confident in what he does, his process and obviously, that’s been proven through time and it’s been great to be part of it.”

O’Brien is the only former head coach Alabama employs, at least for the on-the-field staff. Doug Marone served as the offensive line coach last season after previously being with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s a tradition Saban plans to continue over the next few years.

Bill O’Brien has only hired one former head coach

When asked if he has ever deployed a similar strategy, O’Brien instantly thought of his last defensive coordinator hire, Romeo Crennel. He was hired by Houston after being the Kansas City Chiefs head coach in 2013 but also had experience with the Cleveland Browns. A little different at the NFL level but O’Brien is familiar with working with prior head coaches.

“First guy that comes to mind is Romeo Crennel,” O’Brien said. “I hired Romeo when I was in Houston and he was a great asset for me in Houston. And a great, great football coach and even better person. “There are probably some other guys in there who have had head coaching experience but Romeo is the one that stands out to me right away.”