NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian took the vacant head coaching job at Texas earlier this month, which left a hole in the Crimson Tide coaching staff headed into the 2021 college football season. That vacancy has now been filled.

Bill O'Brien, the former coach of the Houston Texans and Penn State Nittany Lions, has been hired by Nick Saban to lead the Crimson Tide's offense in 2021 as well as the team's quarterbacks coach, the school announced on Thursday.

"We are pleased and happy to be able to add Bill O'Brien to our coaching staff," Saban said in a statement. "He has a wealth of experience as both an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL and college. Bill is one of the brightest offensive minds in football, an outstanding teacher and excellent recruiter. He will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best possible chance to be successful."

This will mark O'Brien's return to the college sidelines for the first time since 2013, when he finished up the second of his two seasons as coach at Penn State. The Nittany Lions finished fourth in the Big Ten in total offense in both of those seasons and in the top three in passing offense. He won Paul "Bear" Bryant award and Maxwell Coach of the Year following an 8-4 campaign in the first season since the departure of Joe Paterno.

That, of course, will come in handy in the pass-happy Alabama offense that has evolved since coach Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin to run the unit prior to the 2014 season. O'Brien has plenty of college football experience under his belt. He made stops as an assistant coach at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke from 1993-2006. 

"I am honored and excited to join Coach Saban's staff at the university of Alabama," O'Brien said. "I have an incredible amount of admiration for the rich football tradition at this University and the success Coach Saban has had during his time in Tuscaloosa. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with some of the best football players in the country, while helping to continue the success this program has enjoyed for many years."

O'Brien was fired by the Texans following an 0-4 start to the 2020 NFL season.