Talking about what happened yesterday in Indianapolis only depresses me, so let's shift the conversation to the promise of the future, unknown as it may be. Jason La Canfora reports that your Houston Texans have already approached Bill O'Brien, currently head coach at Penn State University, about their head coaching vacancy. La Canfora says in part:
Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who came close to taking the Eagles job a year ago and was approached by several other teams, is ready to return to professional football, according to pro and college sources, and has already been approached by the Texans and Vikings.
O'Brien struggled with the decision last year and ultimately felt he owed it to his players to stay at Happy Valley for a second season, but relations between him and the school frayed some when the school was subjected to more post-Sandusky sanctions than expected, and he also has had three staff members depart recently. His buyout is less financially restrictive than in past years, and, furthermore, there could be litigation over his buyout as well, if the situation escalates, given the penalties the program faced.
A favorite to replace Gary Kubiak by many of those in the BRB community, Bill O'Brien would fit the parameters discussed by Bob McNair in the press conference announcing Kubiak's termination. If you're looking for additional reasons to get excited about the possibility of O'Brien coming to Houston (or somewhere else in the NFL), I give you this article from David Jones of PennLive.com, which includes the following:
I’ve called and texted O’Brien for the past 24 hours asking him to put all the latest speculation to rest by coming out publicly and stating that he will return to coach Penn State next season. O’Brien is usually very good at getting back to me and he may at some point still. But up to this hour, he has not. Draw your own conclusions from that.
I’ve had a couple of phone conversations with O’Brien during the last two weeks, one fairly lengthy the other brief. They were understood as, and must remain, off-the-record.
I can tell you that neither gave me much firm ground on which to assess prospects for his sticking around another year or two. I’m not even sure he knows what he’ll do. The last thing he said to me was, "I’m not leaving." But I have no right to hold him to that. He’s his own man, all business situations are fluid and football at this level is nothing if not a business.
But, what I’m ultimately left with is my perception that I think the guy has a soul. I may be proven wrong in the coming weeks. But I don’t think Bill O’Brien is some shameless carpetbagger of the Todd Graham design – two years here, two years there and on and on up an endless career ladder. I think when he signed the current freshman class, including his prize pupil quarterback Christian Hackenberg, it was understood he’d see them through at least the first halves of their college careers. I honestly don’t think he has the stomach to turn his back on them.
In other words, signs indicate O'Brien may not stay in Happy Valley, except for the signs that indicate perhaps he will stay in Happy Valley. Clear as mud, right?
If O'Brien does choose to stay at Penn State, so be it. I am pleased to see the Texans making the effort to broaden their search beyond Ken Whisenhunt and Lovie Smith, even if they get rebuffed doing so.
In a related story, between the coaching searches going on at Reliant Park and at my alma mater, I am unlikely to make it to Christmas without throwing a rod.