Bill O'Brien heads back to the NFL after recording a 15-9 record in two seasons at Penn State. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
One of the NFL's most coveted head coaching candidates is off the market. Bill O'Brien and the Houston Texans have agreed to a deal to make O'Brien the team's new coach, according to multiple reports. The move will be announced officially on Thursday, the Houston Chronicle's John McClain reported.
O'Brien has been the Penn State head coach for the past two years. He took over the program amid extremely tumultuous conditions, with the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal still being felt. Despite NCAA sanctions that limited his available scholarships, O'Brien posted an 8-4 record in 2012 and a 7-5 mark this season.
The 44-year-old O'Brien briefly flirted with the NFL last offseason, reportedly with spots like Cleveland and Philadelphia. Instead, he stayed in Happy Valley and received a $1 million raise in June.
As part of O'Brien's return to Penn State for 2013 was a reduction in his contract buyout should he take an NFL position, ESPN reported. The change lowered O'Brien's buyout from $19.33 million to a much more manageable $6.5 million.
Several of the teams who fired their coaches either during or immediately after the 2013 regular season were believed to be interested in O'Brien -- Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, Tampa Bay and Minnesota are the other franchises with openings currently. SI's Michael Rosenberg wrote Monday that the Lions would be a perfect match for O'Brien.
"If O'Brien wants to leave, the best job for him is in Detroit," Rosenberg wrote. "If the Lions are smart, they will realize they need a coach who can revive Stafford. O'Brien is that guy. There are no perfect marriages in the NFL. But this has a chance to be pretty close."
With the Texans, O'Brien will find a team that won the AFC South in both 2011 and 2012, before collapsing amid 14 straight losses to close this season. Houston holds the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, which could be used on either JaDeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater (among others), should those players declare for the draft.
Meanwhile, Penn State may already have a new candidate in mind: ex-Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported
that the Nittany Lions were prepared to "make a strong push" for Schiano's services. Schiano was a Penn State assistant from 1990-95.