Ohio State is set to hire former NFL head coach Bill O’Brien as the school’s new offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
The move comes with a potential shift within the OSU program, as coach Ryan Day has spent part of this offseason exploring bringing in an experienced coordinator who would allow him to give up playcalling duties, according to sources.
O’Brien served as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator in 2023 and has extensive experience as a playcaller and developer of quarterbacks at the college and NFL level.
In O’Brien, Ohio State is getting an offensive coach who worked with Bryce Young at AlabamaTom Brady and Deshaun Watson during some of their best seasons. Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 under O’Brien, and Alabama finished in the top 10 in scoring offense in both of O’Brien’s seasons as coordinator, averaging 39.9 and 41.1 points per game. Ohio State’s offense dipped this season to 30.5 points per game, down from 44.2 the prior year.
In O’Brien’s seven years (2014 to 2020) as an NFL head coach, he reached the playoffs four times and led the Texans to a winning record five times. He was fired after an 0-4 start in 2020 and finished his tenure there 52-48.
O’Brien also brings experience in the Big Ten as a head coach. He took over for Joe Paterno at Penn State in 2012 and went 15-9 in two seasons. His time there is most noted for being a strong recruiter and steadying presence as Penn State navigated the fallout from Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.
Brady won the NFL MVP with O’Brien as quarterbacks coach in 2010. (New England didn’t list an offensive playcaller that year, and O’Brien was officially the offensive coordinator the following year.)
In the wake of three consecutive losses to Michigan and a two-game losing streak to end the 2023 season, Day has embarked on significant changes to the program. Ohio State decided to not bring back a pair of assistant coaches — safeties coach Perry Eliano and special teams coach Parker Fleming.
Since Ohio State’s season ended, the program has received a flurry of draft-eligible players returning for an additional season and some high-profile additions through the transfer portal, signals that the school’s collective appears poised to invest significantly.
On offense, those players include star wide receiver Emeka Egbukatailback TreVeyon Henderson and guard Donovan Jacksonall returning for a fourth season. Heading into last season, all were regarded as players who’d seriously consider the NFL.
In the NCAA transfer portal, former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard joined the Buckeyes for his final year of eligibility, and two-time All-SEC tailback Quinshon Judkins transferred from Ole Miss.
Ohio State also added Alabama center Seth McLaughlin in the portal.
O’Brien is a Brown graduate who started his career there in 1993. He worked at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke before joining the Patriots staff in 2007 as an offensive assistant.