Why are Alabama fans so excited about Bill O’Brien joining the Patriots? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
NFL analysts and Patriots fans seemed unanimous in approving New England’s decision to hire Bill O’Brien as the next offensive coordinator.
But it seems Alabama fans are just as happy to have O’Brien leave his post as the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator. Don’t you believe us? Consider the social media reaction to news of O’Brien’s hiring in New England:
So what’s going on here? Why is there so much contempt for O’Brien among Alabama fans, and should Patriots fans take that reaction as a red flag?
At first glance, O’Brien seemed to be doing quite well in Alabama. The Crimson Tide went 24-4 in O’Brien’s two seasons in Tuscaloosa (13-2 in 2021 and 11-2 in 2022) and made the 2021 College Football Playoff Championship game, losing to Georgia 33-18 . Alabama’s 2022 offense averaged 477 yards and 41.1 points per game, which ranked 11th and fourth among all FBS teams, respectively, and quarterback Bryce Young won the 2021 Heisman Trophy, attributing much of his success to O’Brien’s guidance .
Seems pretty good right? Well, not in Tuscaloosa, where two-loss seasons are considered failures. Alabama lost two games in a campaign just once in the last six seasons before O’Brien arrived and won three national championships in that span. They also averaged more than 47 points and more than 500 yards per game under former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
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AL.com’s Mike Rodak recently joined our Phil Perry on the Next Pats podcast to share an insight into why Crimson Tide fans have been so excited to see O’Brien go.
“People ask, ‘Why isn’t he gone yet?’ Because the fans don’t like him,” Rodak told Perry last week. “That’s the product of the high standards in Alabama, because the fans here expect them to win every single game. They expect them to win by 40 points. They expect Alabama to score 50. That’s how it went for a while underneath Nick Saban. …
“It feels like there’s just a lot of fan anxiety and feeling like they don’t want him here anymore. It’s hard to ignore at this point. It has been brewing for a while and has certainly surfaced now. So fans are awaiting news of his departure.”
In short, the bar for success in Alabama is set very high, and O’Brien fell just short of it. There shouldn’t be a shortage of high-profile candidates to replace O’Brien as OC, so we can see why Crimson Tide fans wouldn’t mind his leaving.
While Alabama fans dig O’Brien, Patriots fans should still be happy to see him at Foxboro: The Andover, Massachusetts native should be a considerable improvement over Matt Patricia and even has a past relationship with the former Alabama Quarterback Mac Jones. who helped O’Brien learn the Crimson Tide offense after being hired in January 2021.