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Penn State's new football coach Bill O'Brien is surrounded by the media after he was introduced during an NCAA college football news conference, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in State College, Pa. O'Brien, who is currently the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, replaces Hall of Famer Joe Paterno, fired Nov. 9 in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Andy Colwell, Associated Press - Ap

Reports: Texans considering Penn State's O'Brien

  • Associated Press
  • December 29, 2013 - 1:01 AM

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have interviewed Penn State's Bill O'Brien about their vacant head coaching job and he has emerged as a leading candidate, according to media reports.

Houston team owner Bob McNair told The Houston Chronicle on Saturday night: "The process has been underway, and it continues. The process isn't over. We have other candidates to interview next week."

The paper reports O'Brien met with McNair and general manager Rick Smith last week, and also has interviewed former Bears coach Lovie Smith and interim coach Wade Phillips.

ESPN reported, citing unidentified sources, that O'Brien is the "overwhelming favorite" to become the Texans' coach.

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.

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 after last season and the buyout if he were to leave for an NFL job was lowered to about $6.5 million.

Text and phone messages left for O'Brien and Penn State athletic director David Joyner by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.

The Texans (2-13) fired coach Gary Kubiak this month and have lost 13 straight games.

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