Boston College reportedly nearing deal to hire Big Ten assistant as next head coach
Boston College is working toward a deal to make Ohio State offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien the program’s next head coach, according to multiple reports.
The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman first reported the development Thursday night. ESPN’s Pete Thamel had a corroborating report Friday morning. After O’Brien emerged as the likely target in BC’s search earlier this week, it appears the Eagles are close to landing their guy.
O’Brien, 54, is a Boston native who played at Brown and briefly flirted with the BC job before Jeff Hafley took it in 2020. O’Brien accepted the offensive coordinator position at Ohio State just three weeks ago, marking a return to the college game for the longtime NFL coach.
According to Thamel, O’Brien was one of three candidates who traveled to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to conduct an in-person interview on Thursday. A deal and formal announcement are both expected soon, per Thamel.
O’Brien was working in Columbus in his current role as the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator through Wednesday.
After spending five seasons with the Patriots more than a decade ago, O’Brien was tabbed as the man to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State. He took over as the Nittany Lions coach in 2012 under extremely difficult circumstances and managed an 8-4 record in his first season. The Nittany Lions went 7-5 a year later and that landed O’Brien the head job with the Houston Texans.
He spent six full seasons and part of a seventh as an NFL head coach. Houston fired him in October 2020. In January 2021, O’Brien was hired to be Alabama’s offensive coordinator. He spent two seasons with Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa before returning to the Patriots in 2023.
Boston College gives O’Brien his second stint as a full-time college head coach, and it’s a job that’ll likely come with just as many challenges.
The Eagles haven’t won more than seven games in a season since 2009 — when Frank Spaziani was the head coach. The program has reached double-digit wins in a season only twice since joining the ACC. And it hasn’t been ranked in an AP poll at any point since 2018.
Hafley left the job to take a coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers. He reportedly made the move to get away from all the non-football responsibilities that have fallen on coaches’ shoulders in recent years. O’Brien will have to navigate those, as the job has changed significantly since he was last a college head coach.
At Boston College, he’ll have to work to rebuild a roster with limited resources and low visibility.
From Ohio State’s perspective, the Buckeyes now find themselves in a precarious spot. Winter workouts are underway around the country. Spring ball is on the horizon. Coach Ryan Day has said he plans to give up play-calling responsibilities in 2024, which should make the job incredibly attractive. But, this far into the offseason, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of market there is.