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Alabama makes it official with Bill O’Brien hiring

Photo from Alabama Athletics

Bill O’Brien was named Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Thursday, more than a week after reports that made it evident that he was getting the job.

“I am honored and excited to join Coach Saban’s staff at The University of Alabama,” O’Brien said in a school release. “I have an incredible amount of admiration for the rich football tradition at this University and the success Coach Saban has had during his time in Tuscaloosa. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with some of the best football players in the country, while helping to continue the success this program has enjoyed for many years.”

O’Brien was fired as head coach and GM of the Houston Texans after an 0-4 start this season. He won four division titles his first six years in Houston before things fell apart this season.

Why did it take so long for Alabama to officially name O’Brien to the job? While it may not be known for sure, it’s possible O’Brien was waiting for some other coaching dominoes to fall before the deal at Alabama was finalized.

For instance, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was considered a leading candidate for the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coaching job. If he had gotten that job, it could have opened up the possibility for O’Brien to return to New England as the offensive coordinator, a job he held prior to taking over at Penn State in 2012.

O’Brien’s name came up in some media reports as a possibility for the head coaching job at Tennessee, which just fired Jeremy Pruitt after the school’s own investigation into rules violations.

But O’Brien grew tired of all the things he had to do off the field trying to lead the Penn State program out of dark time, and it seemed highly unlikely given his personality that he would want to take over at another school facing troubled times.

Alabama, obviously, is not facing tough times.

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O’Brien will take over as offensive coordinator for Steve Sarkisian, the new head coach at Texas.

Sarkisian reportedly made $2.5 million a year as Alabama’s coordinator, so O’Brien’s salary probably is somewhere in that neighborhood.

“We are pleased and happy to be able to add Bill O’Brien to our coaching staff,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said in the school release. “He has a wealth of experience as both an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL and college. Bill is one of the brightest offensive minds in football, an outstanding teacher and excellent recruiter. He will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best possible chance to be successful.”

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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