HOUSTON - The Houston Texans and Bill O'Brien have reached an agreement lthat will make O'Brien the third coach in franchise history, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the team has yet to announce the hire.
ESPN first reported news of the deal on Tuesday night.
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The Houston Chronicle, citing two people with knowledge of the negotiation, reported that O'Brien would be heading to Houston on Thursday for the announcement.
O'Brien is 15-9 at Penn State, guiding the Nittany Lions through two winning seasons despite severe NCAA sanctions. Before following Joe Paterno at Penn State, he spent five years (2007-11) as an offensive assistant with the New England Patriots.
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The 44-year-old O'Brien drew interest from the NFL last year, interviewing with Cleveland and Philadelphia before deciding to stay at Penn State. His contract was re-worked in July and the buyout, if he were to leave for an NFL job, was lowered to about $6.5 million and required him only to pay back his base salary, not the annual supplemental income earned from media appearances and a portion of the school's Nike contract.
Saying "this string of losses is unacceptable," Texans owner Bob McNair fired coach Gary Kubiak on Dec. 5, one day after the underachieving 2-11 Texans lost 27-20 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"The last straw was losing. We have a lot better talent than Jacksonville,'' McNair said. "We are so disappointed and shocked by what has happened."
The Texans, who made the playoffs the past two seasons, entered this season with legitimate Super Bowl expectations. Instead, the team failed miserably, losing 14 consecutive games and finishing 2-14. During Week 9 Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke and missed two games before returning.
"I truly felt that (Kubiak) would be with us until it was time to retire," McNair said after firing him. "But we have to do what's best for the organization. We're here to have a winning culture, and this year does not contribute to that.''
Kubiak was 61-63 with just two wild-card playoff appearances during his eight-season tenure since replacing Dom Capers in 2006.