As we move into the first day of the New Year, the Houston Texans have finally found a new head football coach – Bill O’Brien. O’Brien spent the past two seasons guiding Penn State out of the Jerry Sandusky mess that left the program in a state of disarray.
Bob McNair, owner of the Texans, had targeted O’Brien after firing Gary Kubiak on Dec. 6th with three games remaining in the season. McNair wanted someone who had head coaching experience and also had worked in the NFL. O’Brien fit the profile.
The Brown graduate comes from the Belichick coaching tree having served as an assistant under the Patriots head coach for six seasons from 2007 to 2012. He was the offensive coordinator during the 2011 season when New England lost in Super Bowl XLVI to the New York Giants.
The Texans interviewed three candidates. Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was the first. Phillips took over as the interim head coach after Kubiak was fired. Lovie Smith, who did not coach this season, was the second, and then O’Brien met with the team at his home in Cape Cod the week after Christmas.
One sign that O’Brien was headed to the NFL at some point was the renegotiated contract that his agent put together last summer. As a condition to returning to Penn State for the 2013 season, the school amended his contract to lower the buyout from $19.33 million to $6.48 million should O’Brien accept an NFL coaching job.
O’Brien began his coaching career at Brown serving as tight ends coach his first year and inside linebackers coach the second. From there, he had stops at Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Duke before being hired as an assistant for the Patriots.
O’Brien went 15-9 in two seasons at Penn State amidst a bowl ban and severe scholarship cuts. His first task as head coach in Houston will be dealing with the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft. The Texans are believed to be looking for their quarterback of the future.