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April 19, 2014

St. John's grad O'Brien talks about life as head coach

(Continued)

Q: How about the football side of your decision?

A: “One of the things I learned with the Patriots was the importance of everybody being on the same page, including the owner, management and the head coach. One of the things that struck me right away in my interview with Cal McNair (owner’s son) and Rick Smith (general manager). It was a great discussion about the organization, the draft, free agency and what kind of team we wanted. It couldn’t have gone any better. It was important Rick and I, specifically, were comfortable working together. It just felt right to me from the first interview.”

Q: After being a coach on the rise, you’ve endured some tough years and situations (including 1-22 as the offensive coordinator at Duke in 2005-06), including having the Notre Dame offensive coordinator job for a few days before having it taken away. How has that made you stronger and prepared what lies ahead in Houston?

A: “There were some tough times. This is a tough business, especially as an assistant coach and moving so often. Some of the situations were great, but coaching football always has been a passion of mine. I love it. “

Q: Talk about your entrance into the NFL was with the New England Patriots in 2007?

A: “At Georgia Tech, I made a contact with Bill (Belichick) through a mutual friend. I would talk to him every so often and I’d throw some things off him, like plays and formations. Bill called (me after the 2006 season) and said he had a position and told me what he expected. There were a lot of days I didn’t see sunlight. There was a lot of film work, taking notes ... I was more like an auditor. But it was one of the best experiences I’ve received in coaching. It opened my eyes in a lot of ways.”

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