Boston College has hired Bill O’Brien as the school’s next head coach, giving the Massachusetts native a homecoming and the Eagles a hire with extensive NFL experience and strong local ties.
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 was one of three candidates to travel to Massachusetts for interviews Thursday.
“When we embarked on this search, we prioritized finding a coach who believes in our mission and vision, who has a plan for greatness on and off the field, and who will work tirelessly to elevate BC Football,” Eagles athletic director Blake James said in a statement.
O’Brien, 54, is a former head coach of Penn State and the Houston Texans, and he is best known around Boston for his stints with the New England Patriots. He coached there from 2007 to 2011 and again in 2023 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“Bill is a gifted leader who has had a tremendous amount of success as a head coach and coordinator at both the collegiate and NFL levels,” James said. His passion for teaching football and developing young men make him a great fit to lead Boston College to greater heights.
O’Brien grew up locally in Andover. One of his sons, Michael, plays college baseball 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 the area, as Bill O’Brien 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 takes over for Jeff Hafley, who left last week to become the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. Boston College went 7-6 in the 2023 season with a win over No. 24 SMU in the Fenway Bowl.
O’Brien brings a strong reputation as a quarterback tutor, having worked with Bryce Young (as Alabama’s offensive coordinator), Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson during some of their best seasons.
He enters the job at a time when Boston College hasn’t distinguished itself nationally in recent years. The Eagles haven’t won eight games in a season since 2009 and have been nationally ranked in only one season since 2008. O’Brien’s quarterback knowledge and NFL experience should make Boston College an attractive option in the transfer market.
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. He brought success on the field and galvanized the program off the field. In 2012, he won Big Ten Coach of the Year and Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year. He went 15-9 in two seasons at Penn State.
He 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, before 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, averaging 39.9 points per game in the 2021 season and 41.1 points per game in 2022.
O’Brien’s departure opens up one of the most intriguing offensive coordinator jobs in the sport, as Ohio State coach Ryan Day said in a news conference this week that he is giving up playcalling in 2024.