NFL analysts and Patriots fans seemed to unanimously approve New England’s decision to hire Bill O’Brien as its next offensive coordinator Tuesday.
But it appears Alabama fans are just as happy to see O’Brien leave his post as the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator. Don’t believe us? Consider the reactions that poured in on social media amid news of O’Brien’s hire in New England:
So, what’s going on here? Why is there so much disdain for O’Brien among Alabama fans, and should Patriots fans view these reactions as a red flag?
At first glance, O’Brien appeared to have quite a bit of success at Alabama. The Crimson Tide went 24-4 during O’Brien’s two seasons in Tuscaloosa (13-2 in 2021 and 11-2 in 2022) and reached the College Football Playoff championship game in 2021, losing 33-18 to Georgia. Alabama’s offense averaged 477 yards and 41.1 points per game in 2022, which ranked 11th and fourth among all FBS teams, respectively, and quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 while crediting much of his success to O’Brien’s tutelage.
Seems pretty good, right? Well, not in Tuscaloosa, where two-loss seasons are viewed as failures. Alabama lost two games in a campaign just once in the previous six seasons before O’Brien arrived, winning three national championships in that span. They also averaged 47-plus points and 500-plus yards per game under previous offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
AL.com’s Mike Rodak recently joined our Phil Perry on the Next Pats Podcast to provide some perspective on why Crimson Tide fans were eager to see O’Brien leave.
“People are asking, ‘Why isn’t he gone yet?’ Because fans don’t like him,” Rodak told Perry last week. “That’s product of the high standard at Alabama, because the fans here expect them to win every single game. They expect them to win by 40 points. They expect Alabama to score 50 points. That’s kind of how things went for a little while under Nick Saban. …
“It feels like there’s just a lot of fan angst and sentiment that they don’t want him here anymore. It’s hard to ignore at this point. It was kind of bubbling for a little while and it’s certainly come to the surface now. So fans are waiting for any word of him leaving.”
In short, there’s a very high bar for success at Alabama, and O’Brien fell just short of it. There should be no shortage of high-profile candidates to replace O’Brien as OC, so we can see why Crimson Tide fans don’t mind him leaving.
While Alabama fans are down on O’Brien, Patriots fans still should be glad to see him in Foxboro: The Andover, Mass., native should be a considerable upgrade from Matt Patricia and even has a previous relationship with former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who helped O’Brien learn the Crimson Tide offense after he was hired in January 2021.