Ohio State is hiring Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator in a dramatic shift for the Buckeyes, a source told FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman. ESPN first reported the news.
O’Brien spent 2023 as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator in Bill Belichick’s final season in New England. It was his second stint in that role. O’Brien previously was Alabama’s offensive coordinator under Nick Saban and the head coach of the NFL’s Houston Texans and Ohio State’s Big Ten rival Penn State.
The move means that Ryan Day, who has called offensive plays for the Buckeyes for his entire head-coaching tenure, will cede that role to O’Brien, per ESPN. The status of highly-regarded assistant coach Brian Hartline, who was promoted to Buckeyes offensive coordinator last offseason and is considered one of the best recruiters in college football, is unclear.
O’Brien oversaw successful offenses at Alabama with quarterback Bryce Young in 2021 and 2022. Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
However, that success failed to translate to the NFL in his return to the Patriots. New England was 30th in the NFL in total offense last season as quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe struggled mightily. Still, O’Brien was thought to be a potential candidate to either return to the Patriots under new head coach Jerod Mayo or follow Belichick if and when his former boss got another NFL head-coaching job.
Ohio State now adds a very experienced play-caller to a loaded roster that returns nearly every major contributor aside from leading wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. That group includes several, such as running back TreVeyon Henderson, wide receiver Emeka Egbuka and defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau, that opted to stay in Columbus instead of declaring for the NFL Draft. Ohio State has also added impact players such as quarterback Will Howard from Kansas State and running back Quinshon Judkins from Ole Miss via the transfer portal.
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