On the heels of news about Penn State coach Bill O’Brien adjusting his NFL buyout with the school over the summer, reports are now circulating that the Houston Texans are interested in making him their next head coach.
The Texans have been reportedly “doing work” on O’Brien this week, looking into his background and doing due diligence on him. It’s a surprise that O’Brien is at or near the top of the team’s early wishlist, since owner Bob McNair reportedly values NFL head coaching experience highly.
The 44-year-old O’Brien was an assistant with the New England Patriots from 2007 to 2011, including a stint as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2011. He jumped to Penn State for the 2012 season and has a 15-9 record in his two seasons in charge. He was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and the coaches in 2012, as well as winning the 2012 Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, given to the nation’s best coach.
In January of 2013, O’Brien interviewed for the vacant Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns jobs but decided to return to State College for a second season.
Last week reports surfaced that the buyout an NFL team would have to pay Penn State to hire O’Brien was reduced from $19.33 million to $6.48 million this offseason. Another college team would reportedly have to pay $11.08 million to acquire him.
Reducing that buyout may wind up being a terrible move by Penn State, since the school made it that much easier for him to get out of town.
At the very least O’Brien will likely get a big raise out of this latest flirtation with the NFL.