Bill O’Brien among top assistants who could become a head coach according to 247 Sports

·3 min read
Bill O’Brien among top assistants who could become a head coach according to 247 Sports

Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is preparing for his first season back in the college game as the offensive coordinator for Alabama, but could we soon see O’Brien back in charge of his own program? According to a recent ranking of top assistants with head coach potential compiled by 247 Sports, it wouldn’t be shocking.

O’Brien was highlighted as one of 247 Sports’ top 10 assistant coaches who could become a head coach, which should come as no surprise to Penn State fans. O’Brien spent two seasons as head coach of the Nittany Lions before heading off to the NFL for an opportunity to coach the Houston Texans. But after his time with the Texans came to an end, O’Brien landed where all coaches seem to do well in rehabilitating their coaching chops, as an assistant under Nick Saban.

You would have a difficult time finding a Penn State fan who honestly didn’t like O’Brien. O’Brien took on an incredible challenge at Penn State, taking over the program as it was going through the thick of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, officially replacing Joe Paterno amid massive controversy and scrutiny. O’Brien took the job in 2012 and months later learned his new program was being slapped with hefty sanctions that included a significant reduction in scholarships and a four-year postseason ban. It wasn’t a death sentence, but it was a heavy burden to work through.

But it may have been those tough times that showed O’Brien had the right mentality to guide the program through the mess. Under O’Brien and with the world essentially against them on and off the field, Penn State strung together back-to-back winning seasons. And because of the work done by O’Brien, James Franklin came into a position that could have been much worse than it was, and Franklin was able to continue picking up the pieces to make Penn State a Big Ten champion and regular contender.

O’Brien is replacing Steve Sarkisian as Alabama’s offensive coordinator this season. Sarkisian left Alabama to be the new head coach at Texas. Sarkisian replaced Lane Kiffin, who left Alabama to be the head coach at Ole Miss. Given the history of coordinators under Saban and his brief experience at Penn State, it’s safe to say O’Brien will have some opportunities to explore jumping back into the head coaching role.

Whether or not O’Brien wants to jump back into the college coaching game remains to be seen, as the NFL has always seemed to be where O’Brien’s focus is set. But after his time in the NFL with the Texans, it may be more likely O’Brien works his way back up as an offensive coordinator at the professional level again before being a head coach.

Former Penn State offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who is now the offensive coordinator for Michigan, was also ranked in the list by 247 Sports.

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