After two years of handling the impossible situation at Penn State quite well, Bill O’Brien will be getting his first job as an NFL head coach, agreeing to terms with the Houston Texans who have recently let go of Gary Kubiak.
O’Brien, despite being away from the NFL for the last couple of seasons, has been one of the hottest names for quite some times to take a step into the head coaching world. He worked under Bill Belichick at New England as a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. He took on the Penn State job after the Jerry Sandusky scandal and Joe Paterno leaving the job, finishing with a 15-9 record in the two seasons. The school was sanctioned with a four-year postseason ban and a loss of 40 scholarships. O’Brien still posted a respectable 10-6 record in the Big Ten, including 6-2 during his first season.
The Houston Texans didn’t think they’d be hiring. After two consecutive playoff appearances, ‘the most talented squad’ in franchise history according to the owner should have taken them to the Super Bowl. However, Matt Schaub kept throwing interceptions and things got out of hand. Gary Kubiak collapsed during one of the games as his team did plenty of times with a promising lead. He was fired before the end of the season, as the Texans finished with a 2-14 record, earning them the top pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Out of all the hiring teams, the Texans situation seems to be the healthiest. Yes, they do need a new quarterback, but the organization and the ownership are usually excellent to work with, not to mention being very patient and seeing the long run instead of demanding wins now. O’Brien has plenty of talent on both ends of the field, but will be trying to mend whatever it was that got broken during the 2013 season.
The buyout of his contract from Penn State is $6.48 million, although there are conversations and negotiations to try and lower that figure as well. According to Thomas Holley, one of Penn State’s highest ranked recruits, when he last spoke to O’Brien the coach told him he wasn’t going anywhere and will stay with the Nittany Lions. However, every source seems to point that O’Brien prefers taking his NFL head coaching job than staying in State College, where the current ceiling for success is very limited.