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Bill O’Brien Leaves Penn State for the NFL

The rumors and speculation are over; the unfortunate verdict is finally in.

After spending two seasons at Penn State, Bill O’Brien will forgo the remaining three years on his contract to become the head coach of the Houston Texans.

The news was reported Tuesday evening shortly after 10 p.m. by Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.

Schefter goes on to say that O’Brien will be officially introduced as the Texans new head man by Saturday.

The decision comes after a flurry of NFL insider reports over the weekend that said O’Brien interviewed with the Texans. O’Brien became the Texans’ leading candidate, and the interest quickly became mutual as the news became final today.

Much will be said about O’Brien’s early departure from Penn State — a program that is not accustomed to constant coaching turnover in recent history. Everyone knew that Penn State’s 17th head coach ultimately had NFL aspirations, but few expected the move to come this quickly in his career. O’Brien still has three years remaining on his contract with a buyout exceeding $6 million.

O’Brien leaves Penn State with a modest 15-9 overall record, but he will be most remembered for leading the magical 2012 team out of the tunnel and keeping most of the roster intact after the NCAA reared its heavy hand. With or without sanctions, O’Brien proved to be an extremely competent recruiter, pulling in several high-level prospects and a top-20 class this year. Whether he liked it or not, O’Brien became the de facto face of Penn State while other university leadership crumbled around him.

For O’Brien, the Texans job is undoubtedly the most desired NFL coaching vacancy of the year. The team has a solid defense, one of the league’s best running backs in Arian Foster, and the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, which they will almost certainly use on a quarterback. That combination fits O’Brien’s resume, whose experience with coaching quarterbacks — both in working with Tom Brady or developing Matt McGloin and Christian Hackenberg –is his strongest skill.

Penn State has little time to think about the why, but must now focus on the who. Before this news became official, names were being thrown around as candidates to replace O’Brien. Greg Schiano, the recently fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, coached under Joe Paterno for several years in the 1990s and might be interested in a return to college football. James Franklin, Vanderbilt’s head coach, is another name being tossed around Penn State circles in recent days.

We will continue to keep you updated as Penn State searches for its fourth head coach in as many seasons and as the university reacts to this tough news.

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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