Report: Bill O'Brien favorite to be hired as Texans Head Coach

Big news today concerning the former Patriots offensive coordinator.
According to the ESPN report, the Texans and O'Brien met after Christmas at O'Brien's Cape Cod home, with talks reportedly progressing to the point that many expect a deal to be reached by next week. O'Brien is described as the "overwhelming favorite" at this point to fill the void created by the late season firing of Gary Kubiak.

O'Brien spent the past two seasons as the Head Coach at Penn State, where he had immediate and unexpected success despite dealing with the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. In 2012, O'Brien's first year on the job, the Nittany Lions went 8-4 despite facing heavy NCAA sanctions.

The perfomance drew the attention of the NFL, with O'Brien undergoing interviews for the Eagles and Browns before decided to return to Happy Valley for a second season. However, O'Brien's return came with a condition that lowered any buyout for a move to the NFL down from $19.33 million to a more palatable $6.48 million, a figure that reportedly could be negotiated down even further in the coming days.

O'Brien finished the 2013 season with a 7-5 record despite continued sanctions and starting a freshman quarterback in Christian Hackenberg.

Prior to that, O'Brien had a meteoric rise as an offensive assistant under Bill Belichick, setting the stage for his future head coaching opportunities. Originally hired as an offensive assistant prior to the 2007, O'Brien was promoted to wide receivers coach the following year. A year later, O'Brien was promoted to quarterbacks coach, replacing the departed Josh McDaniels as the team's offensive playcaller. By 2011, O'Brien had assumed the role of Offensive Coordinator, with his two tight-end offense helping to propel the Pats to a Super Bowl appearance. O'Brien was actually hired as Penn State's successor to Joe Paterno on January 7, 2012, but would go on to coach the Pats for their ensuing playoff run.

O'Brien has deep ties to New England, where he was born and raised. Originally a native of Dorchester, O'Brien attended St. John's Prep in Danvers before going on to play defensive end and linebacker at Brown University.

He would also start his coaching career at Brown, where he spent two years coaching the tight ends and linebackers. After that, O'Brien spent the next 8 years coaching in various roles at Georgia Tech. Two-year stints with both Maryland and Duke (where he coached tomorrow's opposing quarterback Thad Lewis) followed, leading him to catch the ever watchful eye of Bill Belichick.

If they do indeed agree to a contract, it will be an interesting move for the Texans. O'Brien has only two years of head coaching (at the collegiate level) and one as a pro-level coordinator on his resume. However, he has done nothing but impress at every stop in his coaching career, especially at Penn State where he took on arguably the most difficult job in the country and excelled.

It's easy to see why O'Brien would be attracted to the Houston job. Houston has free-fallen their way to a two win season this year, but they also retain the core of the 2012 team that won 12 games and the AFC South. Houston is already assured of a top-two pick in the 2014 draft, with a loss on Sunday guaranteeing the top overall selection, putting them in prime position to acquire a franchise quarterback (likely Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater). There simply aren't many vacancies that include a potential top overall pick AND a roster already stocked with stars such as JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.

At the very least, O'Brien should bring a spark for a Texans team that seemed to fall into a rut under Kubiak. O'Brien's 2011 sideline spat with Tom Brady (remember this?) arguably showed more energy and fire than Kubiak did in his entire eight season tenure.