The Texans have announced that they’ll conduct a Friday press conference, at which time they’ll undoubtedly announce that Bill O’Brien has become the team’s new head coach.
O’Brien’s former employer, Penn State, already has issued a statement acknowledging that O’Brien no longer works for the school.
“Penn State would like to extend its best wishes to Bill O’Brien,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson and Athletic Director Dave Joyner said in a joint statement. “Coach O’Brien was a tremendous leader during a challenging time at our university, guiding our student athletes to success both on the field and in the classroom. We will always be grateful to him for his time here at Penn State. We wish Bill, Colleen and his family the very best as they embark on this next phase in their lives.
“Penn State will move forward immediately with a national search to identify a new head football coach who will embrace our program’s foundation of academic and athletic success.”
Before Greg Schiano was fired by the Bucs and before Penn State was abandoned by O’Brien, reports emerged that Schiano may be interested in returning to the Nittany Lions. Schiano has said nothing about his interest or lack thereof since becoming available.
Penn State has 6.5 million reasons to wish O’Brien well. According to the Houston Chronicle, that’s the amount the Texans paid to Penn State for the right to employ O’Brien.
And that makes owner Bob McNair’s decision to pounce on O’Brien even more curious. Instead of hiring former Bears coach Lovie Smith or Chargers offensive coordinator and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt (both of whom took NFL teams to the Super Bowl) with no buyout, McNair paid an extra $6.5 million to hire a member of the generally wilted and malnourished Belichick coaching tree.
Based on some of the salty language used by O’Brien in an interview with PennLive.com and his reputation for being a bit of a hothead, it could be that McNair opted to pay for someone with some fire and brimstone instead of going with another low-key nice-guy head coach.
It may work. It may not. Regardless, the Texans and the Buccaneers (who hired Smith) will be compared in the coming years to see if McNair spent his extra $6.5 million wisely.