Bill O'Brien (top) will take over for Gary Kubiak in Houston.
Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT /Getty Images

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Texans have announced that they've hired Bill O'Brien as coach.

O'Brien leaves Penn State less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno. He returns to the NFL to coach the team with the league's worst record this season.

The Texans made it official Thursday. Penn State picked defensive line coach Larry Johnson as interim head coach while the search for a replacement goes on.

A former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, O'Brien took on perhaps college football's toughest job in January 2012, joining a school rattled by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Despite a lack of scholarships, a bowl ban, an overall sense of doom and player defections from the late Paterno's roster, O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to two winning seasons while restoring some tempered enthusiasm in Happy Valley.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.