NFL analysts and Patriots fans seemed to agree unanimously with New England’s decision to hire Bill O’Brien as its next offensive coordinator Tuesday.
But it seems Alabama fans are just as happy to see O’Brien leave his post as Crimson Tide offensive coordinator. Don’t believe us? Consider the reactions pouring in on social media following the news of O’Brien’s appointment to New England:
What is going on here? Why is there so much disdain for O’Brien among Alabama fans, and should Patriots fans take these comments as a red flag?
On the surface, O’Brien seemed to have quite a bit of success in 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, ranking 11th and fourth respectively among all FBS teams, and quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 while attributing much of his success to O’ Brien’s custody.
Seems pretty good, right? Well, not in Tuscaloosa, where seasons with two losses are considered failures. Alabama lost only two games in a campaign in the previous six seasons before O’Brien’s arrival, winning three national championships in that span. They also averaged over 47 points and over 500 yards per game under previous offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
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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 so eager to see O’Brien go.
“People ask, ‘Why isn’t he gone yet?’ Because fans don’t like him,” Rodak told Perry last week. “That’s the product of the high standard in Alabama, because the fans here expect them to win every game. They expect to win by 40 points. They expect Alabama to score 50 points. That’s how it went for a while under Nick Saban…
“It feels like there’s just a lot of fear and sentiment on the part of fans that they don’t want him here anymore. It’s hard to ignore at this point. It bubbled up for a while and it’s definitely surfaced now. So fans are waiting for any message for him to leave.”
Basically, there is a very high bar for success in Alabama, and O’Brien just fell short of it. There shouldn’t be a shortage of high-profile candidates to replace O’Brien as OC, so we can see why Crimson Tide fans wouldn’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 significant upgrade from Matt Patricia and even has a previous relationship with the former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who helped O’Brien learn the Crimson Tide offense after being hired in January 2021.