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December 31, 2013

AP Sources: O'Brien reaches agreement with Texans

HOUSTON —

Two people familiar with the negotiations said Tuesday night that Penn State's Bill O'Brien has reached an agreement to coach the Houston Texans.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't been made.

Less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno as coach of the Nittany Lions, the 44-year-old O'Brien will return to the NFL. He was an offensive assistant under Bill Belichick at New England from 2007-12.

O'Brien was 15-9 at Penn State, hit hard by NCAA sanctions levied for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that cost the late Paterno his job.

Despite a lack of scholarships, a bowl ban, an overall sense of doom, and many player defections from Paterno's final roster, O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to two winning seasons (8-4, 7-5), restoring some tempered enthusiasm in Happy Valley.

But now the Nittany Lions are back to the drawing board after losing O'Brien in a similar circumstance that he turned down last year. After his first season, O'Brien interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, among others, only to stay in State College.

O'Brien was an assistant at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke, before joining Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in New England.

O'Brien will become the third coach in Texans history, following Dom Capers, who led the team from its expansion season in 2002, and Gary Kubiak.

Kubiak took over after Capers was fired following Houston's 2-14 season in 2005. Kubiak went 61-64 and led Houston to its first two playoff appearances and two AFC South titles before being fired in early December in his eighth season.

The Texans were expected to contend for the Super Bowl this season, but instead lost nine games by a touchdown or less as part of a 14-game skid to end the season with the NFL's worst record at 2-14. The job is still seen as a plum position because Houston has a roster filled with talent, including 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and star receiver Andre Johnson.

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