Posted December 28, 2013

Report: Penn State’s Bill O’Brien working on deal with NFL’s Houston Texans

Bill O'Brien, Penn State Nittany Lions
After two seasons with Penn State, Bill O'Brien is poised to return to the NFL. (Photo: Ann Heisenfelt/AP)

After two seasons with Penn State, Bill O’Brien is poised to return to the NFL. (Photo: Ann Heisenfelt/AP)

Just two seasons after replacing one longtime coach, Penn State could soon be looking for another replacement to lead its football program. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Shefter report that the NFL’s Houston Texans are working on a deal to make Nittany Lions headman Bill O’Brien the franchise’s next head coach.

The Texans met with O’Brien this week at his home in Cape Cod. O’Brien has emerged as the favorite for the job, and a deal could be in place within the next week, according to ESPN’s report.

The Texans had been doing due diligence on O’Brien, including his six-year stint with the New England Patriots. The feedback has been strong in his favor, sources said, which motivated Houston to commence negotiations to get a deal in place.

O’Brien, an assistant with the New England Patriots from 2007 to ’12, wrapped his second season at Penn State this fall. The coach was the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year in 2012, when he replaced longtime coach Joe Paterno following the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. In the thick of heavy NCAA sanctions, O’Brien went 8-4 in his first season in Happy Valley and 7-5 in 2013.

O’Brien’s name surfaced in connections to NFL jobs after his first season at Penn State in 2012, but the school lowered his buyout to join an NFL team from $19.33 million to $6.48 million as a condition for his return this season, the report states.

The 2-13 Texans are looking to replace Gary Kubiak, who was fired earlier this month.

48 comments
ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Great hire. Here we have a guy who truly knows the meaning of loyalty. Proved he is a great coach by leading penn St to back to back titles. And we all know how easily success translates from the college ranks to the pro levels. For example see Bobby Petrino.

dandogwood
dandogwood

Bill O brien is an over hyped nothing who Penn State gave a chance to as a nothing unknown coach who failed in college everywhere he was at. Billy O is a bum and vastly overrated watch what happens in Texas. Glad he is leaving college.

dandogwood
dandogwood

The stench of Bill O'Brien will follow him to Texas.  Good.

PaulKelly
PaulKelly

Losing O'Brian is not such a big deal. His connection with Tom Brady made him a notable person, realistically  he is an extremely average coach, there are better people out there for Penn State. The furor has settled down some  so the next coach can begin to put his own stamp on this program. The sanctions are difficult to deal with but as those  begin to expire the school will be a heavy favorite year after year. 

RHS
RHS

It seems to me that the era of a college football coach making a long-term commitment (10-20 years or more) to a single school is long gone.  Maybe I'm being overly cynical about this, but I suspect that the Penn State administration knew all along that if O'Brien was even marginally successful, he would not be there more than a couple of years.  Given the history of Penn State football, I would think that their first preference would be for someone with some connection to the school (e.g. Mike Munchak), but what they needed in the wake of the Sandusky scandal with *no* connection to the program and who was hence totally free of any hint of a taint.  So they hired O'Brien as an interim coach, knowing that he'd be gone pretty quickly, but would stay just long enough for things to settle down a bit.  Hence their willingness to lower the amount of money that an NFL team would have to pay in order to buy out his contract.

Lohikaarme
Lohikaarme

There is no shame in leaving Ped State.

bobpeters
bobpeters

Betrayal.  PSU asked for a five year commitment to avoid this exact situation, which creates instability just as the university is getting past the crisis.  O'Brien understood andf agreed, and was awarded the job based upon that commitment.  He would still be Brady's "boy" but for that commitment.  Now he renegs.  What a jerk.  Can't wait until he's fired by the Texans in a few years and coaching at Tulsa.  


He's not a role model for young men. He's a textbook case of ego and avarice.  Get lost Billy.  

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

Bill is trying to flee the Cuckoo's nest...can you blame him ?

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

If his contract allows for a buyout, and he (actually the Texans, of course) pays it, then he upheld his contract. He didn't violate anything.

MarcoZ
MarcoZ

O'Brien promised Hackenberg and others he would be around to coach them up for a shot at the NFL since the school is on probation. The kids agreed to come to PSU. O'Brien should hold up his end of the bargain.

BigBubba
BigBubba

Sure hope loyalty and a man of his word is not what the texans are going for. What a phony O'Brien turned out to be, and I sure feel bad for his PSU players who got the word of "commitment" from phony O'Brien. THEY HANG IN THERE and help the program survive even though they could have transferred immediately, and what does he do? Bolt at the first or maybe second chance.

BOB talks about character often, and it's too bad he has shown none

Delegator
Delegator

I would hate to see O'Brien leave Penn State. He has done a fine job in the couple of years he has been there, dealing with adversity, recruiting a talented class despite the restrictions, and developing kids like Hackenberg while still being able to win games. I know that the NFL is always a lure for college coaches, but I really don't see the appeal of leaving a big time college job for the meat grinder of the NFL. 


But that's me being selfish as a fan of Penn State. If O'Brien wants to make the move, I wish him luck.

MatthewMason
MatthewMason

Please take the job Jim, I need the Penn St position to be vacant so Al Golden will leave Miami for the job.  Everyone at UM wants him gone.....

Cool
Cool

I hope Lovie Smith starts charging a fee to each of the teams who want to interview him as their token black candidate.  Secondly I hope the Texans fall on their face and eat dirt for passing up on a proven NFL coach and going after a little proven head coach.  Leave O'Brien at PSU for and addiitional 2 years and you get the same result... failure.

PWINGS
PWINGS

Given their respective experiences as NFL assistants, their level of success as college coaches and the respect with which they're regarded as men,O'Brien and David Shaw at Stanford appear to be the two most likely college candidates to accept head coaching positions in the NFL. The HBO Real Sports segment on O'Brien was particularly impressive and moving. A stand-up guy! With the level of talent he'll inherit and the probable 1st overall pick, the Texans are going to be in the thick of things next year.

Roy1
Roy1

Bill Belichick's assistants have a spotty record as head coaches - Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, McDaniels, etc.  What exactly did O'Brien do at Penn St. to warrant this job?  They did better than many expected, with the bowl ban, etc., but not exactly tearing up the B1G.  This Texans fan is not overwhelmed.  

Steve Phillips
Steve Phillips

Can't blame him for leavin college station but I hate to see him go.

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

Welcome to Penn St, Greg Schiano

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

As a PSU Alumnus, I would hate to see him go.  But this is the best move possible in the NFL (for teams with openings).  There is a base talent level already there and they will be in a good draft position as well.  

6marK6
6marK6

I would say that this is the best possible hire there is. Great hire if the Texans pull it off.

Matthew W
Matthew W

@dandogwood 

Actually that stench is coming from the Joe Pa and the Pedo legacy. Don't hate on the man trying to clean up what your University turned a blind eye to for yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeears. 

Matthew W
Matthew W

@PaulKelly 

I guess a long bowl ban, probation, defections, loss of 40 scholarships, and all the bad press which will hang over the program for years  isn't a handicap? 


Why would a top recruit want to go to Penn State right now? O'Brien may not be the next Saban but he's doing more with less....give the man a break.

Mike26
Mike26

@bobpeters You're far too bitter about this bob.  Your former icon played a dramatic role in putting the program in the area it's currently residing - along with your other "university leadership" officials.  I know that JoePa stuck around for 4+ decades, but outside State College coaches have been changing jobs for a long time like this = welcome to the real world!

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

@bobpeters you should have been stuck with Jay Paterno and flush the program for the duration of the sanctions


be thankful you had Bill O Brien for a couple years..what Penn State deserves right now is Wade Phillips indefinitely...oh wait you had one just like him

PWINGS
PWINGS

@MarcoZ   What some former college coaches have done is to draft players that they coached in college because they are familiar with the player's abilities and character.  Bucs' coach Greg Schiano, for example, has six former Rutgers players on his roster. It's not repaying all of his former players' trust, but it is a significant gesture that benefits both the players and the coach.

Ray1950
Ray1950

@MarcoZ Do you have any idea how many coaches "promised" their recruits they would be at the school if a kid committed? It happens all the time.  Coaches' contracts don't mean a thing.  I'm not saying it's right because I think if  player has to sit out a year before they can transfer, so should a coach who's moving from one university to the other. 


In the case of a college coach moving to the NFL, as long as they (or the team) pays the buy out, there's nothing stopping them, and that's happened many times, as well. It may not be right but Bill O'Brien is hardly the first.

slickwilly
slickwilly

@BigBubbaThat's why there's a buyout clause in his contract. The buyout is there so that he can leave if he wants to leave. If he wants to coach in the NFL, he can't wait around forever. I'll agree he's a phony like most other football coaches, but the Texans' vacant head coaching job is about as good as it gets for a first time head coach. The Texans are a talented team with high draft picks that has the ability to make the playoffs as soon as next season.

BigBubba
BigBubba

Don't know Miami hates him. He walked into a hornets nest of which he knew nothing, and he has had success. I hope he becomes the next PSU coach and hope he wants to return. Big ten needs coaches like him

Mike26
Mike26

@Cool Lovie was passed over LAST offseason by all other 31 teams.  Lovie may/may not get hired THIS offseason; however, your remark (and overall tone) about the job interview process is laughable at best.

Roy1
Roy1

@PWINGS Texans GM Rick Smith average at best.  

Roy1
Roy1

@PWINGS The Texans have a whole lot of holes and they have a tough cap situation.  Secondary = weak, D-line average (and that includes all-universe JJ Swatt), O-line suspect, need a QB, linebackers = suspect other than Brian Cushing who has had 2 season-ending knee injuries, RB = suspect with Arian Foster on the decline and Ben Tate on his way out of town.  Texans don't have the talent KC had after their 2-14 disaster season.  At least they play in football's weakest division.

Nine Vegetable
Nine Vegetable

@Roy1 Roy, I thought what he's done there is amazing.  The NCAA tried to cripple Penn State's program.  I don't think anyone expected them to even come close to a winning record for a long, long time.  He's had a winning record both years he was there - with not much to offer the young men in the program.  Its a big loss for Penn State but I can't blame him for making the move.

megalodale
megalodale

@Roy1 Based on your vast knowledge and experience, then...who would you recommend that Mr. McNair hire? 

PO'D in boca
PO'D in boca

@GoPSULions I agree BUT we must hold the fee for leaving. not even up for discussion at the end of day coach was a good assistant in NFL with no HC experience, the scandal brought a ton of un wanted exposure and his tenacity won over a nation. we need to hold true to fee's and look for a quality  replacement for the next 10 years. we set the precedent in some many ways lets continue if the NFL wants to raid our coaches they can pay

Cool
Cool

@rentistoohigh @PaulKelly "Ok boy's... time to hit the showers!"      "Umm , hey coach, what do you say about us just staying out here and practicing... showers are over rated."


Sounds like it could work!

Cool
Cool

@Mike26 @Cool  If you find my comment "laughable at best" than perhaps you have forgotten about the Rooney Rule and didn't understand my point about him charging for any interview. Until this rule is done away with he will be busy interviewing.  But as it stands each team hiring a new coach must interview a minority candidate.   

Maybe if you did a little more research on the subject you would stop "laughing" and start understanding.   

PWINGS
PWINGS

@Roy1@PWINGS  So Kubiak isn't the only one responsible for the Texans situation this year?

Roy1
Roy1

@megalodale @Roy1 Someone else?  I would prefer David Shaw of Stanford.  I'd rather have Lovie Smith than O'Brien to be honest.  Let O'Brien accomplish a bit more at PSU.  So let me guess, you buy what authority figures sell you - because they know better, right?  Sometimes, but not all the time.  LOL.   

Cool
Cool

@Mike26 @Cool Do you ever stop and read your comments?  You can't seem to decide if I think he should be hired or not hired.   Yes, he is getting job interviews because of the color of his skin, it is fact... because of the Rooney Rule, I think that is obvious.   Now while you are replying will you please tell me if you think I am behind Lovie Smith... or against him... you seem to be straddling the fence.

Mike26
Mike26

@Cool @Mike26 I'm well aware of the rule - and if you think the ONLY reason he's getting interviews is because he's black then you're sorely mistaken.  However, the reason he's not getting the job(s) that you feel he should be getting aren't over his skin color - it's over his inability to hire a competent OC over the last 6 years of his stint in Chicago despite a good to outstanding defense.  Perhaps YOU are the one that should face some reality here and stop playing the irrelevant race card.

Mike26
Mike26

@PWINGS @Roy1 No he's not.  His stubbornness in making ANY adjustments to his offense and gameplanning as Schaub clearly regressed - and then with the dimunitive Keenum - gave the Texans only a slim chance of success after Week 10 of last season.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Roy1 Who is the authority figure that is selling Bill O'Brien?