Stepping aboard the coaching carousel rumor mill can be a dangerous task this time of the year. Coaching rumors can pop up out of nowhere as agents start using their candidate for specific jobs, message board members throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks, and the next thing you know USC is nabbing away the head coach at Oklahoma and LSU is backing up the Brinks truck to hire Notre Dame‘s head coach. It was a wild couple of days on the coaching carousel, and we are not done just yet.
Former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is still reportedly the favorite to be named the next head coach at Akron. But another offensive coordinator with Penn State ties could also be landing a head coaching job. We’re speaking, of course, of the one and only Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien, now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, could be a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Virginia Tech. Maybe this is just one of those rumors that will ultimately go nowhere, but O’Brien landing the Virginia Tech job could be an interesting fit.
When Bill O'Brien's name was being pushed by his reps on a few other jobs, it was to generate interest in the Virginia Tech opening. I'm hearing that things could be developing soon on that front. #GoHokies
— Landry Football (@LandryFootball) November 30, 2021
Virginia Tech fired Justin Fuente as head coach on November 16 after compiling a record of 43-31 in the previous six seasons. Fans had grown disgruntled over Virginia Tech trending in the wrong direction after a great first season in Blacksburg. That puts Virginia Tech in a tough spot needing a head coach at a time when the top programs in college football are hot-swapping coaches on the fly right now. Not that Virginia Tech was about to pay big bucks for Lincoln Riley or Brian Kelly, but Virginia Tech is in need of a solid hire that wins over the disgruntled fanbase and can establish a solid foundation.
O’Brien’s previous time as college football head coach at Penn State should suggest O’Brien could be a good fit for what Virginia Tech needs. O’Brien is not without his critics, of course. His tenure as a head coach with the Houston Texans ended in a messy situation, and he has been on the receiving end of a good amount of criticism for his playcalling as Alabama’s offensive coordinator (even if he does have a quarterback that could win the Heisman Trophy this season).
O’Brien spent two seasons as the head coach at Penn State, in 2012 and 2013. Coaching at the onset of NCAA sanctions stemming from the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the core of the football program, O’Brien managed to coach Penn State to back-to-back winning seasons despite a massive loss of scholarships and a large number of key players deciding to transfer to other schools after the NCAA granted immediate eligibility to nay player choosing to leave Penn State.
O’Brien, who never shied away from his desire to one day coach in the NFL as a head coach, took the opportunity to coach the Houston Texans after his second season in Happy Valley. Penn State hired James Franklin to be O’Brien’s successor in 2014.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been one who has added coaches to his staff who were removed from their previous positions, allowing coaches to rebuild their credibility and stature. Former Alabama coordinators that have gone on to become a head coach again have included Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, and Butch Jones, just to name a few. O’Brien could certainly continue that trend in the near future.
If O’Brien returns to the college football sidelines as a head coach, Virginia Tech would seem to be a pretty good spot to do so. But time will tell if O’Brien truly is about to be a head coach again or not.
WATCH: Shaka Toney's first career sack in the NFL was a big one
What player comparison did an NFL GM make for Jahan Dotson?
Arnold Ebiketie makes late-season watch list for defensive award
Former Penn State OC Joe Moorhead in mix for head coaching vacancy
Ricky Rahne hopes to take Old Dominion to a bowl game