Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien has had several coaching mentors throughout his career. One of them is Ralph Friedgen, the former Maryland coach who first presided over O'Brien when both were at Georgia Tech.
O'Brien went to Georgia Tech as a graduate assistant and rose up in ranks until he replaced Friedgen as the offensive coordinator in 2001. Friedgen hired O'Brien as a running backs coach and then tried to hire him as his offensive coordinator at Maryland.
I'll get into more of that in a profile I'm working on about O'Brien that should run in the next couple of days. But this is a nugget that won't fit into the story, but one I thought was useful for understanding some of O'Brien's success at developing players.
"I think he’s blatantly honest with them," Friedgen said. "...We’re a lot alike in that way. I’m an emotional guy, he’s an emotional guy. He’ll tell you how he feels. You’ll see him get very angry, you’ll also see him get quiet. I think what happens is people can trust him. I think it wasn’t an easy decision for him to leave now. I think he could have done it last year. But because of the commitment the players made there and the commitment he made to the players (he stayed)."
Friedgen enjoyed the molding of young people he did as a college coach, and noted that in the NFL you're dealing with grown ups. He guessed that O'Brien will enjoy that aspect of coaching pros.
He also noted, as others have, that O'Brien's strength is working with quarterbacks.
"If they draft a quarterback, I think they will, he’ll get excellent guidance," he said. "He’s not the coordinator, he’s the head coach but he’ll have an impact on that. He’ll hire somebody that’s going to be thinking the same way he does. ... You’ve gotta have a quarterback or you won’t win."