OC O’Brien rejoins Bama after COVID isolation


Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien rejoined the team Tuesday after isolating for a period of time following a positive COVID-19 test.

Both O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone tested positive and were forced to attend every staff meeting virtually.

“Coach [Nick] Saban made everything normal,” the former Penn State and Houston Texans head coach said.

In his first year at Alabama, O’Brien could become the sixth different offensive coordinator under Saban that has won a national title. When asked about getting the job at Alabama, O’Brien said Tuesday that Saban’s was the only call he received after being fired by the Texans.

“He had a job opportunity for me, and I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity,” O’Brien said.

On Sunday, Saban said that both O’Brien and Marrone were expected to eventually rejoin the team and coach in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic against Cincinnati. Until Tuesday, O’Brien had to coach the offense via Zoom.

O’Brien took advantage of the SEC’s recently adjusted COVID-19 protocols, which fall in line with the CDC announcement Monday of reduced isolation times from 10 days to five days.

“It wasn’t anything different,” wide receiver Jameson Williams said of O’Brien being away. “We went to practice, other coaches took over his role. We had to script everything, but the next day we went, he was on the Zoom. We heard his voice and he’s drawing up everything, he’s talking to the O-line, receivers, basically going over corrections. So that was how that was.”

“With him not being here, it’s nothing new. He’s on the Zoom, coaching the same way,” running back Brian Robinson Jr. said. “It’s more on the players. We had to come out to practice and practice hard. We needed to do everything at the same speed he wanted us to do it at, even if he was there or not.”

Alabama hasn’t had a player enter COVID protocols, and according to Saban, the Tide have over 90% of their players vaccinated with a booster shot.

ESPN’s Chris Low contributed to this report.

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