Ohio State has hired Bill O’Brien as its new offensive coordinator, the team announced Friday. The move marks a major shift for coach Ryan Day, who will give up play calling as he continues to acquire talent — both on his roster and coaching staff — in an effort to get the Buckeyes back to the top of the Big Ten.
“I am extremely pleased to be able to add Bill O’Brien to our coaching staff,” Day said. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge – and a tremendous amount of success – at both the NFL and collegiate levels. He is an excellent and experienced offensive coach who has run NFL and Power 5 programs and developed some truly elite players throughout his career. He’ll be an excellent teacher and recruiter for us, and he absolutely strengthens our staff.”
O’Brien, 54, served as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots last season after spending the 2021 and 2022 seasons in the same position at Alabama. He also has Big Ten experience as Penn State’s head coach from 2012-13 before he left to become head coach of the Houston Texans from 2014-20.
Day announced that Brian Hartline, an ace recruiter and receivers coach for the Buckeyes, will remain as co-offensive coordinator for the program after adding the coordinator label to his title this past season. Offensive assistant Corey Dennis is also being retained, but Day has not determined a specific role for Dennis yet after he spent the past four seasons as quarterbacks coach.
Another splash for Ohio State
Landing O’Brien is merely the latest eyebrow-raising move for Ohio State in the weeks since its season ended with a 14-3 loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. That disastrous offensive performance — albeit one that came without some key offensive personnel — underscored the need for a new offensive identity entering the 2024 campaign.
With TreVeyon Henderson returning for his senior season and former Ole Miss star running back Quinshon Judkins joining out of the transfer portal, Ohio State will have one of the nation’s top backfields. With several key defensive playmakers also returning to one of the nation’s top units, the Buckeyes should be equipped to play with the physical, imposing style that Georgia and Michigan have employed on their way to recent national championships.
Kansas State transfer Will Howard appears to be the likely successor to Kyle McCord at quarterback after the Buckeyes’ typically prolific air attack took a step back in 2023. While Howard has a proven track record of success, he is largely considered a middling passer.
But O’Brien boasts and elite track record working with quarterbacks. A prominent success story is 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young at Alabama. O’Brien also worked closely with Tom Brady in New England from 2007-11 and played a key role in developing DeShaun Watson into a three-time Pro Bowler with the Texans.
While Howard likely answers Ohio State’s quarterback question for 2024, the program’s long-term plan at the position is unclear. One name to watch could be Alabama freshman Julian Sayin, who reportedly plans to enter the transfer portal. He committed to the Crimson Tide when O’Brien was the team’s offensive coordinator.