(AP Photo/Matt Freed, File)
Well, that was something.
Since receiving a tip last Friday morning about O’Brien potentially being en route to Boston for an interview, it’s been a wild week of rumors, stories, sources and texts. One thing remained clear the entire time.
Bill O’Brien was the choice from the jump for Boston College.
Now, he’s the new head coach, a job that was pretty much his to lose throughout the process.
As I reported at 9:55 on Thursday night, Bill O’Brien was indeed given the job after two final candidates (Al Washington and Troy Calhoun) were informed either late at night or early Friday morning. It was confirmed at 10:45 Friday morning with word leaking out from other national outlets late to the party.
O’Brien – 54 – may end up making this his last coaching stop, as NEFJ learned there is a clause in his contract where he won’t be leaving for the NFL. While exact final numbers and years aren’t known, he should be making around $5 million. O’Brien has St. John’s Prep routes and his wife is a BC alum (as I’m sure you’ve all read 1,000 times by now). Adding on a son pitching at Tufts and another with severe medical needs, and the fit was always almost too perfect.
NEFJ learned 6-9 interviews (presumably Zoom) were conducted last Friday. O’Brien had been zeroed in on by BC as a ‘main target’ even before that interview. By Saturday night, a rough contract seemed to be in place (at least the beginning stages, seeing where each side stood to start out) and throughout the weekend, I was told from sources that minor details (incentives and staff money) were the only thing that may be a hold up.
BC president Bill Leahy – who is notoriously known for drawing out coaching searches and making sure folks know everything goes through him – still wanted to go through the process, and understandably so given how important the decision is for a team floundering in an ever-changing college football world. But, athletic director Blake James and other folks in on the decision making process had identified O’Brien early on as a favorite and the high level of interest was mutual.
After in-person interviews in Atlanta during the week (I get why but then again I kind of don’t?), I was originally being told that it was down to Al Washington and O’Brien on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, texts were flowing in from sources saying there was a “groundswell’ of support for Washington. Turns out Calhoun was part of the ‘final round’ consideration, but the other two were ahead of him.
A source also said that Washington had support from a lot of alumni because he would have come at a cheaper price given the lack of experience. “Social climate and $$$ are in his favor,” was the exact quote. Things went quiet for the rest of the day until Matt Ryan was on with Felger and Mazz around 3 p.m., advocating for O’Brien. Speaking of Ryan, I had also heard that he was part of the hiring process. Still not sure how involved he was (could have just been a few conversations here and there), but he was consulted.
With word seemingly imminent Thursday night, two different sources at roughly the exact same time (9:42) said the decision was official.
This is arguably the best hire BC’s football program has ever made. People will look at his latest stints in New England and Houston and say ‘what makes him the guy?’ but as a local guy who knows what resurrecting BC football would mean (he got married at the church on campus), it’s perfect for everyone.
O’Brien took Penn State from the brink of extinction through arguably the worst scandal in sports history and even though the recruiting world is much, much different than it was during his time in Happy Valley, he can provide that CEO-like leadership that’s required for competitive D1 football programs in 2024.
Fans will need to temper expectations a bit though. The schedule is difficult, the staff now either needs to be assembled or get to know each other quickly and most importantly, O’Brien needs to sit with Thomas Castellanos and see what he does best. That relationship is going to be critical going forward. O’Brien also needs to wait and see who he’ll have since the departure of Hafley opens up the portal for all BC players until March 1.
BC doing the right thing and not letting money get in the way could have been a direct result of Hafley leaving. Bringing in Washington would have cost far less, but the team probably would have ended up in the same position four years from now considering he’s never even been a coordinator.
O’Brien instantly brings stability and this late in his career, it’s hard to believe he wants to do anything else but turn BC football back into what it used to be.
That was a fun week and we appreciate everyone that followed along for updates, but let’s not do it again anytime soon BC, thanks.