Bill O'Brien
Current position
TitleHead coach
TeamPenn State Nittany Lions
ConferenceBig Ten
Biographical details
Born (1969-10-23) October 23, 1969 (age 50)
Dorchester, Massachusetts
Alma materBrown University
Playing career
Position(s)Defensive end, linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Brown (TE)
Brown (ILB)
Georgia Tech (GA)
Georgia Tech (RB)
Georgia Tech (OC/QB)
Georgia Tech (Asst/OC/QB)
Maryland (RB)
Duke (OC/QB)
New England Patriots (Asst)
New England Patriots (WR)
New England Patriots (QB)
New England Patriots (OC/QB)
Penn State
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2012)
Big Ten Coach of the Year (2012)
Maxwell Coach of the Year (2012)
AT&T-ESPN Coach of the Year (2012)

Bill O'Brien (born October 23, 1969) is is an American football coach who is currently the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. He was hired in 2012 to take over a program that had just endured the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. In his first season as head coach, he led the team to an 8-4 record and won ESPN's National Coach of the Year award.

O'Brien began his coaching career in 1993 with Brown before spending more than a decade coaching in the ACC. He joined the New England Patriots in 2007 where he eventually served as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 2011. After the 2012 season, O'Brien garnered significant interest to return to the National Football League (NFL) as a head coach and interviewed with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns. Ultimately, O'Brien decided to stay at Penn State citing that it would send a poor message to leave after just one season.

Playing career

After graduating from St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts, O'Brien attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he played defensive end and linebacker for the Bears from 1990–92.

Coaching career

College assistant

O'Brien's first coaching position was at Brown, where he coached tight ends in 1993 then inside linebackers in 1994. He would then spend the next three seasons (1995–1997) as an offensive graduate assistant at Georgia Tech. He then coached the Yellow Jackets' running backs from the 1998 season through 2000 season. From 2001 to 2002, O'Brien served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and was named an assistant head coach for the 2002 season. In 2002 Bill was hired as Notre Dame's offensive Coordinator before George O'Leary was dismissed.

As offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 2001 and 2002, his teams averaged 31 and 21.5 points per game, respectively as the teams went 9–4 and 7–6.[1][2]

In 2003, he left to coach running backs at the University of Maryland, where he spent two seasons before accepting the position of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Duke in 2005.

As offensive coordinator at Duke in 2005 and 2006, his teams averaged 16.1 and 14.9 points per game.[3]

New England Patriots

After two seasons with Duke, O'Brien was hired by the New England Patriots on February 27, 2007 as an offensive assistant.[4] On February 21, 2008, O'Brien was promoted to wide receivers coach.[5] He became the quarterbacks coach and offensive play-caller following the 2008 season after the departure of quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in February 2011.

The Patriots gave the Jacksonville Jaguars permission to interview O'Brien for their head coaching vacancy during the Patriots' playoff bye week; O'Brien was scheduled for an interview, but never actually interviewed for the job.[6] Instead, O'Brien interviewed with Penn State staff on January 5, 2012,[7] was offered the head coach position, and signed a four-year contract to become the Nittany Lions' coach.[8] O'Brien continued as New England's offensive coordinator through Super Bowl XLVI.

Penn State

O'Brien was hired as Penn State’s 15th head football coach, replacing Joe Paterno, who was also a Brown alumnus.[9] He was introduced as the head coach at a press conference on January 7, 2012.[10]

Response to sanctions

Due to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, on July 24, 2012 the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sanctioned Penn State with a four-year postseason ban, and loss of 40 scholarships over a four-year period.

In light of these NCAA sanction, O'Brien issued the following statement:

"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university".[10]

Because of a clause in his contract, O'Brien received an automatic four-year extension which guaranteed an extra year for every year of sanctions put on the program.[10]


In his first game as Penn State's head coach, the Nittany Lions lost to the Ohio University Bobcats, 24–14. O'Brien's first win as the Penn State head coach took place on September 15, 2012, with a 34–7 win against the United States Naval Academy at Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA. Despite the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, his first season as coach at Penn State was far more successful than anticipated, and resulted in a final record of 8-4. O'Brien collected the most wins for a 1st year head coach in school history, and was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year on November 27th, 2012.[10]

O'Brien was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and the coaches.[11] On December 8, 2012, O'Brien was named the national coach of the year by ESPN.[12][13] On January 17, 2013, O'Brien was awarded the 2012 Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award.[14]

NFL interest

In January 2013, O'Brien interviewed for the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns.[15] However, he decided to remain at Penn State, stating: "I’m not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that’s what I am going to do. I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure." He was also interviewed by the Philadelphia Eagles[16]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten Conference) (2012–present)
2012 Penn State 8–4 6–2 2nd (Leaders)
Penn State: 8–4 6–2 ‡ Ineligible for Big Ten title, bowl game and Coaches' Poll
Total: 8–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. "2001 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". April 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  2. "Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2002 Football Schedule". Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  3. Crow, Alfie. "Who is Bill O'Brien? A look at Potential Penn State Football Coach's Resume". SB Nation. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  4. Reiss, Mike (February 27, 2007). "O'Brien hired". Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  5. Reiss, Mike (February 21, 2008). "Pats hire Capers". Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  6. Rodak, Mike (February 8, 2012). "Jaguars get permission to interview O'Brien – New England Patriots Blog – ESPN Boston". ESPN. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  7. .[dead link]
  8. "Sources: Bill O'Brien to coach Penn St.". ESPN. January 6, 2012.
  9. "Penn State hires Bill O'Brien as coach". ESPN. January 6, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 "Penn State Selects Bill O'Brien To Lead Football Program". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. January 7, 2012.
  11. Moyer, Josh. "O'Brien sweeps B1G COY awards". PSU Nittany Lions Blog - ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  12. "Mauti, O'Brien win national honors". Stats, LLC.. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  13. Kaplan, Emily (8 December 2012). "Penn State's Bill O'Brien named top coach, Mike Mauti a first team All-American per ESPN AT&T". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  14. "Bill O'Brien wins 'Bear' Bryant Award". January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  15. Smith, Michael David. "Browns have already interviewed Bill O’Brien". ProFootballTalk. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  16. Taylor, John. "O’Brien staying at Penn State". CollegeFootballTalk. Retrieved January 4, 2013.

External links

fi:Bill O’Brien
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