Nick Saban Calls Alabama OC Search an 'Ongoing Process' Amid Bill O'Brien Rumors

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2021

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien talks to his players on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn't substantiate rumors that former Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is set to replace outgoing offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, when asked on Tuesday.

Sarkisian has agreed to take over as Texas' head coach.

"I can't make any predictions about our staff," Saban told reporters Tuesday. "... We'll just have to wait and see. I can't answer that. It's an ongoing process for us to find the right offensive coordinator. We're certainly in the process of doing that."

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman reported Monday an agreement between Alabama and O'Brien is expected "in the next few days."

Sarkisian was announced as the Longhorns' new head coach in early January, but he stuck around at Bama to help the team capture the national championship Monday night. The Tide offense averaged 48.5 points during its 13-0 journey to the program's 18th title.

O'Brien spent the past seven years as head coach of the Texans. He guided the franchise to a 52-48 regular-season record with four postseason appearances. The team went just 2-4 in the playoffs, however, and never advanced beyond the divisional round.

The 51-year-old Massachusetts native was fired in October after an 0-4 start to the 2020 season. The struggles followed an offseason where he was criticized for blowing a 24-0 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in last year's playoffs and trading star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.

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"In the end, in this business it's a bottom-line business and we weren't able to get it to where we needed to get it," O'Brien told reporters.

Houston finished no better than 13th in total offense during his tenure despite the presence of Deshaun Watson, one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, since 2017.

O'Brien previously spent two years as head coach at Penn State (2012-13) after 19 years as an assistant at the collegiate and pro levels. He was part of the New England Patriots' staff from 2007 through 2011, working his way up from an offensive assistant to offensive coordinator.

There's a connection between the Pats organization and the Alabama program because of the long-term friendship of Saban and New England head coach Bill Belichick.

The role of Tide offensive coordinator has become a popular landing spot for high-profile coaches looking to bolster their resumes in recent years. Others to fill the role include Brian Daboll, Mike Locksley and Lane Kiffin.