Only 15 days from the annual arrival of Black Monday, the coaching carousel already is spinning.
It’s spinning in part because the Texans have a vacancy, created nine days ago. Which has given the Texans a head start on looking for a new coach.
Reportedly, at least one other team without a head-coaching vacancy has started looking for a new coach, too.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, both the Vikings and the Texans have contacted Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. The former Patriots offensive coordinator flirted with the NFL in January, before opting to stay put at Penn State.
O’Brien’s new deal reportedly has a buyout that currently would cost $7.73 million for an NFL team to take him away from the Nittany Lions. The price tag for a jump to another college program reportedly would be $13 million.
Regardless of whether O’Brien would leave for the NFL (and whether an NFL owner would write a check that big for the privilege of writing big checks to O’Brien), the notion that the Vikings have started sniffing around potential candidate is, if true, a bad look for a team that still has a head coach in place.
Frazier has a contract that extends through 2014. While it’s not unusual for teams to scope out their alternatives before firing a head coach, it’s critical that discretion be maintained. Failure to do so hurts the Vikings in the short term, and potentially O’Brien in the long term.
Regardless of how it got out, future teams who are considering a coaching change may be reluctant to reach out to O’Brien before actually making the change.
From O’Brien’s perspective, the ongoing NFL interest could make it hard to nail down a recruiting class. But it could make it easier for O’Brien to land yet another new deal from Penn State.