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O’Brien bolts Penn State for Texans

File image of New England Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien in Foxborough Reuters

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien reportedly told a recruit over the weekend that he wasn’t leaving.

He may not be leaving, but he sure ain’t staying.

Via multiple reports, O’Brien has struck a deal to become the head coach of the Houston Texans.  O’Brien, who spent two years at Penn State after serving as offensive coordinator of the Patriots, replaces Gary Kubiak.

It’s unknown whether and to what extent the Texans will be paying a buyout to Penn State to secure O’Brien’s services.  His most recent contract pegged the cost of an NFL team securing his services at nearly $7 million.

O’Brien becomes the latest former Belichick assistant to become an NFL head coach.  Others such as Romeo Crennel (twice), Josh McDaniels, and Eric Mangini (twice) have not fared well as head coaches at the pro level.

The Texans fired Kubiak more than three weeks ago.  They ultimately interviewed only three candidates — O’Brien, former Bears coach Lovie Smith, and interim head coach Wade Phillips.  The Texans opted not to wait for the opportunity to interview Chargers coach Ken Whisenhunt.

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80 Responses to “O’Brien bolts Penn State for Texans”
  1. escrimz says: Dec 31, 2013 10:30 PM

    Let’s see of the Belichick Coaching Tree Curse is broken by O’Brien.

  2. atwatercrushesokoye says: Dec 31, 2013 10:32 PM

    So who do they hire in 2 years when they realize what a mistake this was?

  3. tolan04 says: Dec 31, 2013 10:32 PM

    Oh man look out!!

  4. seatownballers says: Dec 31, 2013 10:32 PM

    Inheriting a good team, gets first overall pick, and a shot in a weak division

  5. peopletrains says: Dec 31, 2013 10:33 PM

    I hope the Saban bashers give this guy the same amount of ridicule. In all seriousness, what has Bill O’Brien done to make him so sought after?

  6. brooklyn40niner says: Dec 31, 2013 10:33 PM

    Ha. Take that Penn State!

  7. Armonia says: Dec 31, 2013 10:35 PM

    Welcome to Houston William!

  8. 8oneanddones says: Dec 31, 2013 10:35 PM

    Scott Pioli
    Eric Mangini
    Charlie Weis
    Romeo Crennel
    Josh McDaniels
    Bill O’Brien

  9. MichaelEdits says: Dec 31, 2013 10:36 PM

    It can be hard to keep up, but fortunately it can also be hard to care.

  10. theaxmancometh says: Dec 31, 2013 10:36 PM

    What is the appeal with this guy? He has 2 average seasons at Penn State & he’s worth buying out for $7m & a hefty salary? Hasn’t anyone learned yet that disciples of The Hoody fail as head coaches?

  11. MyTeamsAllStink says: Dec 31, 2013 10:37 PM

    PSU loses 3 coaches in a span of 2 years after having just one for around 50.Enjoy irrelevance Protect Sandusky University

  12. GenXJay says: Dec 31, 2013 10:38 PM

    It has yet to be determined if the Texans overpaid for Bills services.
    But, as a spectator of the game, i can assure you that the Texans overpaid.

  13. revanslightsaber says: Dec 31, 2013 10:38 PM

    Don’t take Bridgewate #1!

  14. Gordon says: Dec 31, 2013 10:41 PM

    He’ll be a bust at the pro level like the other Belichick assistants you noted.

  15. olduke says: Dec 31, 2013 10:41 PM

    Thanks Bill, for your integrity!

    I hope we get James Franklin, a local guy who really does love Pennsylvania.

  16. canetic says: Dec 31, 2013 10:43 PM

    But I thought the Texans interviewed Lovie Smith first because they were “seriously considering” him? What a joke.

  17. canetic says: Dec 31, 2013 10:44 PM

    Also, Bill O’Brien? $7 mil buyout? LOL.

  18. stew48 says: Dec 31, 2013 10:44 PM

    If this is correct, I am greatly disappointed in O’Brien and it is my sincere wish he never wins an NFL game, now or later.

  19. Foremastjack says: Dec 31, 2013 10:44 PM

    Oh boy

  20. fullbull111 says: Dec 31, 2013 10:45 PM

    Love the hire! From a players coach to a disciplinarian,
    Full accountability.I have my New Years gift.
    Happy new year AFC South.

  21. kaeprulestheworld says: Dec 31, 2013 10:45 PM

    Good luck

  22. teambringitstrong says: Dec 31, 2013 10:46 PM

    On the surface, this is a head-scratcher. I’m not sure what the appeal is but I trust Houston knows what they’re doing. At first glance, this is keeping a seat warm but hey, I’m in a comments section talking about a NFL hire and not making those decisions for a reason.

  23. bleedgreen says: Dec 31, 2013 10:46 PM

    I dont understand why they’d pay $7Million for the privilege of paying OBrien the same thing they’d pay Whisenhunt.

  24. jerrahsucks says: Dec 31, 2013 10:49 PM

    At least, this hire insures the Cowboys will be the best team in Texas, even at 8-8. Bob McNairs been sucking the same happy juice Jerrah been sucking for years.

  25. gredw6733 says: Dec 31, 2013 10:49 PM

    O’Brien, you haven’t learned much from Black Monday. Hope they’re paying a lot… you’ll be out on your ass in 2 yrs.

  26. robigd says: Dec 31, 2013 10:49 PM

    Thank you Texans.

    Love, Jag fans

  27. freshchorizo says: Dec 31, 2013 10:49 PM

    The Raiders need to take advantage of this situation and trade McGloin to the Texans for draft picks. O’brian will have a QB who’s familiar with his scheme and the Raiders can get compensation for a player they don’t believe is part of their future plans.

  28. terripet says: Dec 31, 2013 10:50 PM

    Good the Colts will continue to dominate the afc south

  29. badmoonrison says: Dec 31, 2013 10:50 PM

    Just goes to show, the HC options out there are miserable.

  30. brewcrewfan54 says: Dec 31, 2013 10:51 PM

    This guy kept a sinking ship afloat prettydamn well for 2 years not to mention he didn’t let Brady walk all over him when he was with the Pats. His track record is already much better than any of Belichecks coaching tree. Not saying he’ll be great but he wont be the others.

  31. phillyphanatic77 says: Dec 31, 2013 10:53 PM

    As a PSU fan (tho not a Cult member as I went to Temple) this isn’t surprising but very disappointing. PSU was starting to get 4-5* recruits again thanks to this guy. I love his work ethic and the way he develops young men. Idk if it’ll transfer to guys making millions upon millions of dollars but I had similar concerns with Chip Kelly.

    PSU administrators better get on the phone quick to get a marquee replacement or a hot-name assistant bc we cant lose the few recruits we have.

  32. realfootballfan says: Dec 31, 2013 10:55 PM

    Talk about a career on overdrive. No one saw this guy as a head coach 2 years ago. He must see a QB in this draft that he thinks can be his Brady, whether it be Bridgewater at 1 or one of the other players they could take later.

  33. sdiegosteel says: Dec 31, 2013 10:55 PM

    As a Nittany Lions fan, O’Brien took us through the worst part of the penalties, so I can’t be mad at him. It’s a gamble what he is doing. He probably had a minimum of ten years of time at Penn State, and that would have been the case if he was an abject failure – – the respect for what he did would have been that high. I’m guessing he’s not going to get ten years in Houston – – but I wish him luck.

  34. jbaxt says: Dec 31, 2013 11:01 PM

    Let me get this straight… Penn State can’t get anyone to take the job so they get this cat. In 2 years he goes .500 and now, a guy who was the only one who would take the Penn job, is now a NFL head coach? Was Marty, Cowher, Dungy, Gruden, Shanahan, Lovie, Del Rio, Wisenhunt, Haley, Wade, or ANY current OC or DC not available?

  35. bodhizuffa says: Dec 31, 2013 11:02 PM

    Go figure, wait until an hour or so before new year’s eve to break the news. No PR going on there. BoB did a great job during a tough time at PSU. He did a wonderful job as a leader and a coach. And I admire him as a coach. Used to admire him as a man. But how do you preach to players about loyalty to a university, recruit players in the same vein, then bolt for the NFL? If that was what you wanted, you should have taken a different path. PSU is a destination, not a stepping stone. And the players you coached and recruited deserve(d) more. After all your talk you are no better than any one of the egomaniacs in the profession. College football is in trouble. Money rules. Passion is a distant second. But I guess that ship sailed a long time ago. I hope Mauti finds you and kicks your ass.

  36. remyje says: Dec 31, 2013 11:02 PM

    Can’t wait to watch this guy flop

  37. brutus9448 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:02 PM

    And andrew luck is relieved.

  38. freshchorizo says: Dec 31, 2013 11:02 PM

    McGloin to the Texans makes a heck of a lot of sense. Even as a backup he could help shorten the learning curve in the QB room

  39. jagsdynasty says: Dec 31, 2013 11:06 PM

    Meanwhile the Jaguars are preparing for a decade of multiple Super Bowl wins…

  40. steelpalace5000 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:07 PM

    This man and coach walked into a very bad situation and took control of it. As a former Penn state player as well as a Penn citizen I thank him for his time at Penn State . Nobody ever thought he was going to stay long and I wish him the best next up the fired Tampa coach if he can do the same he will be fine

  41. bigwayne75 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:07 PM

    Good luck, O’Brien, thanks for helping this team pick up some of the pieces.

    I am hearing PSU wants Greg Schiano, not a bad pick. He coached an average college football team to 6 bowls games (5-1) in 11 seasons. I know his record wasn’t great but his players weren’t that good.

  42. phelbin says: Dec 31, 2013 11:12 PM

    The Bill Walsh coaching tree has produced Mike Holmgren, George Seifert, Jon Gruden, Jim Harbaugh, and Andy Reid. I think Bill Belichick is a fantastic head coach, but disciples haven’t done so well after leaving New England.

  43. jschmus says: Dec 31, 2013 11:17 PM

    Happy New Year PSU. The wrath for all the evil things that went on in that program is finally upon you!!!

  44. jschmus says: Dec 31, 2013 11:18 PM

    Happy New Year PSU!!! Stick a fork in em.

  45. x9701 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:19 PM

    Good hire

  46. standrew26 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:19 PM

    Not a Texans fan, but here’s my two cents. Obviously, front office people make awful coaching hires all the time. But there’s a lot we don’t know about the guy. People are all over the Belichick thing, but unlike McDaniels, Crennel, and Mangini, he tried to make his bones at the college level, gathering head coaching experience. He’s also been a coordinator with NFL experience. Neither Penn State or New England spelled disaster. He’s going into a relatively fortuitous situation (there are worse building blocks than JJ Watt, Duane Brown, and Teddy Bridgewater) without a crazy owner who’s been pretty patient. Only the Colts look like real competition. They’ve had 3 weeks to think about this position. John Harbaugh (ST coordinator), Coughlin (fired from J’ville), McCarthy (tutor of A. Smith & A. Brooks), Payton (a couple of decent years with the Cowboys), and Tomlin (1 year with Minnesota) didn’t bring jaw-dropping resumes. If you’re a discouraged Texans fan, give the guy a chance.

  47. discosucs2005 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:27 PM

    Well, I think Lovie would have been the better choice, but then again, I didn’t want my Niners to go for Harbaugh and they haven’t missed the playoffs since so what do I know?

  48. petehemlock says: Dec 31, 2013 11:27 PM

    Come on,, man!! What, he’s brilliant by association? The Belichick tree? Is it poison ivy passing by touch? Are these football people idiots? Pedigree? You got to be kidding me. Oh, OK, if Belichick thinks he’s good then he must be MUCH BETTER than anyone we were thinking of interviewing. I’m not at all inspired by this decision. (he might be good, though)

  49. gigem20 says: Dec 31, 2013 11:34 PM

    As a Texans fan I hope this move works out but I’m not very confident that it will. I’m very disappointed in the lazy approach the organization took in making this hire after reportedly interviewing only three candidates which included Lovie Smith – a defensive-minded version of Kubiak and Wade Phillips – a guy they honestly would never consider hiring but did him a favor by giving him an interview.

  50. jm91rs says: Dec 31, 2013 11:35 PM

    Kubiak is a front runner for the Tampa job and schiano will be a front runner for penn state. That circle worked out nicely.

  51. bucfanforlife says: Dec 31, 2013 11:37 PM

    hey on the bright side the browns are looking at mcdaniels, the hoodie are whatever you might call him really might be the mastermind look at the tuna without him the one thing about josh he went home and tried to learn more, never hire hoodies guys, he does it all he is like a football jedi

  52. 24mountaincreeks says: Dec 31, 2013 11:45 PM

    Aside from decent on field success, his handling of the program and media has been pretty dang good. Pretty important intangibles in the NFL.

  53. therealbleedcoltsblue says: Jan 1, 2014 12:29 AM

    As a Colts fan, I’d like to sincerely thank the texans for continuing their life long tradition of making the worst decisions possible.

    This hire will ensure at least 3 more years of Colts AFC South dominance.

    #hornsdown

  54. drs76109 says: Jan 1, 2014 12:29 AM

    The guy never moved to State College. What college coach doesn’t ‘live in the community? That should’ve been the tip off that he wasn’t committed to Penn State.

    I hope Penn State gets someone truly committed to that community. I thought Tom Bradley should’ve gotten the job anyhow. He wasn’t involved with what happened there, he’s an excellent football coach, and he is proud of being a part of that community.

  55. carolina1cam says: Jan 1, 2014 12:30 AM

    I agree with the earlier posts… So this guy comes into a mess of a situation at Penn St and wins a decent amount of games with lost scholarships and sanctions. So what! What has he done that makes him so sought after? If he came into the interview and blew them away like a Mike Tomlin or something then O-K. But I just don’t see it. Horizontal move by Houston.

  56. numberoneinthehoodg says: Jan 1, 2014 12:43 AM

    Soooooo, what you’re saying is “Lovie Smith is this year’s token”?

  57. walterwhite1976 says: Jan 1, 2014 12:47 AM

    If you didn’t watch Penn State the last two years you couldn’t begin to understand how valuable this man is.

  58. thetooloftools says: Jan 1, 2014 12:57 AM

    I still don’t think he’s that great a coach. They act like the Penn State was deal just a horrible hand and they played with two less players on the field while blindfolded.
    The team he inherited was not that bad.
    He wasn’t walking on water.
    This isn’t sour grapes.. I just don’t see where a bunch of crying Penn State fans made him a better coach and what he did was all that great.

  59. tothefellowshipofthemiserable says: Jan 1, 2014 1:01 AM

    Organizations often make the mistake of thinking their getting a great coach, when they are just getting their assistant.

  60. brucetrimble says: Jan 1, 2014 1:17 AM

    Poor Wade. He thought he was a legitimate candidate for HC of the Texans.

  61. iammrbinky says: Jan 1, 2014 2:07 AM

    They should have waited to interview Wisenhunt. It’s not like anyone is beating down O’Brien’s door to hire him.

  62. eddddddd says: Jan 1, 2014 2:21 AM

    Why do these guys lie to college kids?

  63. bossbertozzi says: Jan 1, 2014 2:22 AM

    Players that weren’t on the Texans for most of the year that will be there next year: Bridgewater, Foster, Cushing, Daniels, and I’m probably missing someone. This team will be in the playoffs next year.

  64. hoopersx says: Jan 1, 2014 2:26 AM

    At the very least, we know this man can deal with adversity. Nobody could have expected him to do much in the situation at Penn State. But he kept them relevant and imho, he did a great job not letting the Sandusky legacy send the program into a long-term tailspin. What Sandusky did could easily have been enough to let people forego expectations, yet he didn’t let that become an excuse.

    Will he succeeded at the NEXT level? Who knows? But I have to respect the job he did in not letting the kids on that squad just wither away and quit. Nobody could have expected what he was able to accomplish.

  65. dblr0910 says: Jan 1, 2014 2:52 AM

    A fool with money will soon part company, but what I want to know is how did the fool get the money in the first place?

  66. scaredhitless says: Jan 1, 2014 2:53 AM

    “Penn State is my dream job.”

    — Bill O’Brien 2011

    “Houston Texans is my dream job.”

    — Bill O’Brien 2014

    “Its a dream to work under Bill Bellichick again.”

    — Bill O’Brien 2016

  67. philrat says: Jan 1, 2014 2:58 AM

    Obrien’s appeal is that without any scholarships and a freshman quarterback this year he led penn state to back to back winning records. The penn state quarterback was one of the better quarterbacks in the big ten statistically. Obrien’s expertise is supposedly developing quarterbacks which is what the texans need.

  68. iceburgskin202 says: Jan 1, 2014 3:05 AM

    I’m shocked they didn’t want the Shannahan duo??

  69. binkystevens says: Jan 1, 2014 4:51 AM

    Scum. The guy knew what he was getting into at penn st and bolted at the earliest offer for another job. Pure trash – don’t care about him being a family man; he is only as good as his word, and his word is worthless.

  70. sdelmonte says: Jan 1, 2014 6:33 AM

    More that a bit disappointed that another college coach has turned his back on his players. Just once I want to see a school make its coaches honor their contracts.

    But the whole college system is broken anyway.

  71. mortyglickstein says: Jan 1, 2014 7:28 AM

    Are all these owners and GMs this ignorant? They are looking under the wrong tree. You need to shake Parcells, Walsh or Holgrems. They have all produced multiple winners. Belicheck is the fruit, not the tree.

  72. iknowmorefootballthanyou says: Jan 1, 2014 7:34 AM

    Kirk Ferentz
    Thomas Dimitroff
    Ozzie Newsome
    Joel Collier
    Rob Ryan
    Brad Seely

  73. rugbyisbetter says: Jan 1, 2014 7:51 AM

    While I agree that what he did at New England was not any different than the success that Weis or McDaniels shared, but what he did at PSU given that all the talent fled because of the sanctions (limited scholarships, no Bowl games etc) he did very, very well.
    The pundits expected 2 win seasons and he delivered a competitive football team. Grant it, it doesn’t guarantee success as an NFL HC, he so far has probably had more success than other Belichick disciples.

    And really, what candidates are out there that really blow your socks off?

  74. cuda1234 says: Jan 1, 2014 8:08 AM

    Have any of BB’s proteges gone on to be successful head coaches? Crennel? Mangini? McDaniels? Weis?

  75. vegasdestroyer says: Jan 1, 2014 8:23 AM

    Won’t be surprised to hear the PSU BOT is interviewing Bobby Petrino.

  76. hudson0527 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:49 AM

    Nice pick…a fellow who promise’s his recruits he will stay…then leaves after 2 years.

  77. fiverings37 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:21 AM

    Wade -” AWWW shucks! I deserved the job after I made sure that we would get the number 1 pick!”

  78. dadsource says: Jan 1, 2014 11:51 AM

    As a PSU alum, we KNEW going in that BOB was looking to go back to the NFL. The fact that he stayed two years is a plus.

    However, BOB saved recruits, sold the program as a ambassador, and got some big names in! Developed McGloin well, Hackenburg is an absolute GEM! (let’s see what happens to him without BOB)

    Thanks Bill, I was just starting to like you. Still respect you. As a Jaguars fan, it SUCKS that you are coming to the AFC South, where I can count on two losses per year. The next coach we get won’t be as good as you were. You did all you could here. You’re leaving the program at a good time in good shape. Coulda left out the big baby fit at the end- you would have retained all the class we thought you had and kept that ‘hothead’ rumor just that….now it’s out.

    Best of luck BOB. You came into an impossible situation and may be the only coach in the history of the NCAA to follow a legend and succeed. (No, FSU, Jimbo was eased into the program and has taken years to build in a horrible conference)

  79. craigkintexas says: Jan 1, 2014 2:39 PM

    O’Brien’s word isn’t any good. What’s new this day and age?

  80. dualprime says: Jan 1, 2014 3:00 PM

    jerrahsucks says:
    Dec 31, 2013 10:49 PM
    At least, this hire insures the Cowboys will be the best team in Texas, even at 8-8.
    ———————–
    Cowgirls aren’t the best team in Texas now, despite the record. Baylor could beat then!

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