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Bill O'Brien (American football)

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Title: Bill O'Brien (American football)  
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Subject: Houston Texans, List of Houston Texans head coaches, Penn State Nittany Lions football, 2014 Houston Texans season, 2012 NCAA Division I FBS football season
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Bill O'Brien (American football)

William James "Bill" O'Brien[1] (born October 23, 1969) is the current head coach of the Houston Texans of the National Football League. He previously was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2012 to 2013.

O'Brien began his coaching career in 1993 at Brown University before spending more than a decade coaching in the ACC. He joined the New England Patriots in 2007 where he eventually served as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 2011. In 2012, he was hired by Penn State to take over a program that had just endured the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. In his first season as head coach, he led the team to an 8-4 record and won ESPN's National Coach of the Year award. After the 2012 season, O'Brien garnered significant interest to return to the National Football League (NFL) as a head coach and interviewed with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns. Ultimately, O'Brien decided to stay at Penn State citing that it would send a poor message to leave after just one season. After his second season he left Penn State to become the head coach of the Texans.[2][3][4]

Playing career

William James O'Brien was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. After graduating from St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, O'Brien attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he played defensive end and linebacker for the Brown Bears from 1990 to 1992.

Coaching career

College assistant

O'Brien's first coaching position was at Brown, where he coached Georgia Tech.

He then coached the Yellow Jackets' running backs from the 1998 season through 2000 season. In 1999, RB Sean Gregory ran for 837 yards with 6 TD. In 2000, RB Joe Burns ran for 908 yards with 12 TD.

From 2001 to 2002, O'Brien served as offensive coordinator and Chan Gailey, RB Tony Hollings ran for 633 yards with 11 TD and WR Kerry Watkins got 1,050 yards and 5 TD.

In 2003, he left to coach running backs at the University of Maryland, where he spent two seasons. In 2003, RB Josh Allen ran for 922 yards with 8 TD while Bruce Perry ran for 713 yards and 6 TD.

As offensive coordinator at Duke in 2005 and 2006, his teams averaged 16.1 and 14.9 points per game.[7] In 2006, QB Thaddeus Lewis threw for 2,134 yards with 11 TD.

New England Patriots

After two seasons with Duke, O'Brien was hired by the New England Patriots on February 27, 2007 as an offensive assistant.[8] On February 21, 2008, O'Brien was promoted to wide receivers coach.[9] He became the quarterbacks coach and offensive play-caller following the 2008 season after the departure of quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in February 2011.

The Patriots gave the Jacksonville Jaguars permission to interview O'Brien for their head coaching vacancy during the Patriots' playoff bye week; O'Brien was scheduled for an interview, but never actually interviewed for the job.[10] Instead, O'Brien interviewed with Penn State staff on January 5, 2012,[11] was offered the head coach position, and signed a four-year contract to become the Nittany Lions' coach.[12] O'Brien continued as New England's offensive coordinator through Super Bowl XLVI.

Penn State

O'Brien was hired as Penn State’s 15th head football coach, replacing Joe Paterno, who was also a Brown alumnus.[13] He was introduced as the head coach at a press conference on January 7, 2012.[14]

Response to sanctions

Due to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, on July 24, 2012 the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sanctioned Penn State with a four-year postseason ban, and loss of 40 scholarships over a four-year period.

In light of these NCAA sanctions, O'Brien issued the following statement:

"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university".[14]

Because of a clause in his contract, O'Brien received an automatic four-year extension which guaranteed an extra year for every year of sanctions put on the program.[14]


In his first game as Penn State's head coach, the Nittany Lions lost to the Ohio University Bobcats, 24–14. O'Brien's first win as the Penn State head coach took place on September 15, 2012, with a 34–7 win against the United States Naval Academy at Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA. Despite the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, his first season as coach at Penn State was far more successful than anticipated, and resulted in a final record of 8-4. O'Brien collected the most wins for a 1st year head coach in school history, and was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year on November 27, 2012.[14]

O'Brien was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and the coaches.[15] On December 8, 2012, O'Brien was named the national coach of the year by ESPN.[16][17] On January 17, 2013, O'Brien was awarded the 2012 Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award.[18]

NFL interest

In January 2013, O'Brien interviewed for the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns[19] and Philadelphia Eagles. However, he decided to remain at Penn State, stating: "I’m not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that’s what I am going to do. I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure."[20]

Houston Texans

After the firing of Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans, multiple reports state that O'Brien showed interest in going back to the NFL. On December 29, 2013, he met with the Texans on further discussion of the head coaching job for the Texans. The Texans finished 2–14 in the 2013 NFL season, and owned the first overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, which they used on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.[21] O'Brien was officially introduced as the Texans head coach on January 2, 2014.[22] In his 1st season as the Texans coach, he finished with a 9-7 record, narrowly missing the playoffs. O'Brien is represented by Neil Cornrich.[23]

Head coaching record


|- | 2012 | Penn State | 8–4 || 6–2 || 2nd (Leaders) ‡ || ‡ || style="text-align:right" | ‡ || style="text-align:right" | |- | 2013 | Penn State | 7–5 || 4–4 || 3rd (Leaders) ‡ || ‡ || style="text-align:right" | ‡ || style="text-align:right" | ‡ Ineligible for Big Ten title, bowl game and Coaches' Poll


Team Year Regular season Post season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
HOU 2014 9 7 0 2nd in AFC South
HOU 2015 2 5 0 3rd in AFC South
HOU Total 11 12 0 0 0 .000
Total 11 12 0 0 0 .000


  1. ^
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  3. ^ Hill, Josh. Houston Texans agree to hire Bill O’Brien as next head coach, Sports Illustrated, December 31, 2013.
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  5. ^ 2001 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team
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  14. ^ a b c d
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  21. ^ Report, Bill O'Brien on Texans Job|
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External links

  • Houston Texans bio
  • Duke Blue Devils bio
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