ATLANTA (December 4) – Bill O’Brien, who is completing his third season as running backs coach at Georgia Tech, has been promoted to offensive coordinator on the Tech staff, head coach George O’Leary announced Monday.
O’Brien replaces Ralph Friedgen, who directed the Tech offense for the past four years and was named the head coach at Maryland last Wednesday. O’Brien will continue to coach Tech’s running backs and also coach the quarterbacks during preparations for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl with help from graduate assistants, O’Leary said. He also retains his responsibilities as Tech’s recruiting coordinator for the time being.
“Bill O’Brien has been a fine coach for Georgia Tech and deserves this opportunity,” said O’Leary, whose defensive coordinator, Ted Roof, also was promoted from within prior to the 1999 season. “He has a firm grasp of our offensive system, relates well to our players and works as hard as any coach I’ve had on my staff. He’ll do a fine job.”
Tech has enjoyed excellent production in its ground game under O’Brien’s tutelage, ranking in the top three of the Atlantic Coast Conference each year while averaging 191.2 yards per game in helping the Yellow Jackets to a 27-8 record. Tech’s offense has ranked 1st and 15th nationally in the past two seasons.
“Coach O’Leary has been very good to me, and I appreciate his faith in me,” said O’Brien. “He brought me in as a graduate assistant in 1995, and has had confidence in my ability. I’ve worked hard and learned a lot. He’s put his faith in me, and I’m going to do the best job I can for him.
“Very little will change, especially for the bowl game,” O’Brien continued. “What we’ve done has been very successful, and I’ve learned a lot from Ralph. The best part about Ralph is that he’s a teacher, and he always taught me that you don’t fix something that’s not broken.”
This season, Tech ranks third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing at 164.3 yards per game, led by sophomore Joe Burns, the ACC’s fifth-leading rusher with 908 yards. The Jackets are third in total offense and third in scoring.
In 1999, O’Brien coached a unit that remained productive despite season-ending injuries to the top two tailbacks. Third-team tailback Sean Gregory rushed for 837 yards and 13 touchdowns as Tech was second in the ACC and 13th nationally in rushing. The Jackets’ average of 225.6 yards rushing per game was its best figure since 1984.
In 1998, O’Brien’s unit ranking second in the ACC in rushing despite losing starting tailback Charles Wiley at midseason. Three different Tech backs rushed for over 400 yards.
O’Brien also serves as Tech’s recruiting coordinator, and in his first two years in that role, he helped the Yellow Jackets attract two of its most highly-regarded recruiting classes in recent memory.
O’Brien spent his first three seasons (1995-97) at Tech as a graduate assistant coach, working with the offense. Before coming to Tech in the spring of 1995, O’Brien coached two years at Brown, tutoring the Bears’ tight ends in 1993 and then linebackers in 1994.
A native of Andover, Mass., O’Brien was a three-year letterman at Brown, where played linebacker and defensive line. He received the Frederick C. Broomhead Award for outstanding contribution to the school’s football program. He graduated from Brown in 1992 with a bachelor of arts degree with a double concentration in Political Science and Organizational Behavior Management.
O’Brien, 31, and his wife Colleen were married in 1998.
O’Leary also announced Monday that second-year assistant coach Danny Crossman, who has coached Tech’s defensive ends and served as special teams coordinator, will coach the entire defensive line for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Dave Sollazzo, who coached defensive tackles for the past two seasons, is joining Friedgen’s staff at Maryland.