It was reported a few days ago that Penn State Nittany Lions football coach Bill O’Briren was close to signing with the Houston Texans, an the O’Brien-to-Houston rumors are only heating up. Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith was once the top candidate to coach for the Texans, but now it looks like O’Brien is clearly the Texans top candidate. Although he’s a highly-contested head coach who is on a lot of team’s shortlists (including the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns), it looks like he’s going to be off the table soon.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans are “closing in on” a contract with O’Brien, and it seems like we’ll be hearing an official announcement regarding the news shortly. I know it’s difficult to make foregone conclusions even on “Black Monday”, but it just makes too much sense. Bob McNair and the Texans seem high on him, and the interest seems strong. Ken Whisenhunt is the darkhorse to get the job, but the San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator won’t be able to interview with the Texans until the Chargers are knocked out of the playoffs. Even if Rick Smith loves him, it doesn’t seem like the Texans are willing to wait that long.
O’Brien told a recruit that he wouldn’t be leaving Penn State, but that comment was immediately met with skepticism and seems like bunk now. The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator has been loyal enough to PSU, and he’s done an incredible job of navigating the team through the aftermath of the scandal and sanctions by doing an excellent job of recruiting, motivating players, developing talent, and re-instilling credibility in Happy Valley.