NFL analysts and Patriots fans appeared to unanimously approve of New England’s decision to hire Bill O’Brien as its next offensive coordinator on Tuesday.
But it seems Alabama fans are just as happy to see O’Brien step down as Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator. Don’t believe us? Consider the reactions that have poured in on social media amid news of O’Brien’s hiring 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 consider these reactions a red flag?
At first glance, O’Brien seemed to have quite a bit of success in Alabama. The Crimson Tide went 24-4 in O’Brien’s two seasons at Tuscaloosa (13-2 in 2021 and 11-2 in 2022) and reached the College Football Playoff Championship Game in 2021, losing 33-18 against Georgia. Alabama’s offense averaged 477 yards and 41.1 points per game in 2022, which ranked 11th and 4th respectively among all FBS teams, and quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 while crediting much of his success to O’Brien’s tutelage.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, not in Tuscaloosa, where two-game losing seasons are considered failures. Alabama had lost two games in a campaign just once in the previous six seasons before O’Brien’s arrival, winning three national championships during that span. They also averaged over 47 points and over 500 yards per game under former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
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AL.com’s Mike Rodak recently joined our Phil Perry on the Next Pats podcast to explain why Crimson Tide fans couldn’t wait to see O’Brien go.
“People ask, ‘Why hasn’t he left yet?’ Because the fans don’t like it,” Rodak told Perry last week. “It’s the product of Alabama’s top tier, because the fans here expect them to win every game. They expect them to win by 40 points. They expect them to win. that Alabama scores 50. That’s kind of how things went for a little while under Nick Saban. …
“It just seems like there’s just a lot of angst among the fans and the feeling that they don’t want him here anymore. It’s hard to ignore at this point. It was a little seething for a little while and it’s certainly come to the surface now. So the fans are waiting for any word of him leaving.”
In short, there is a very high bar for success in 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 on O’Brien, Patriots fans should still be happy to see him in Foxboro: The Andover, Mass. native should be a huge 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.