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Report: Bill O'Brien to be named Texans coach

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has reached an agreement to replace Gary Kubiak as head coach of the Houston Texans, according to reports.

Will Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien be the next Houston Texans' coach? (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)ESPN reports that the deal is expected to be announced no later than Saturday.

O’Brien, a Bill Belichick protege, was an offensive assistant with New England from 2007 to 2011. He left the Patriots prior to the 2012 season to take over Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

The Nittany Lions went 15-9 under O’Brien, including 10-6 in the Big Ten. He was named conference coach of the year in 2012.

Reports initially surfaced last week that O’Brien was a prime target of Texans owner Bob McNair and that he would interview for the job.

Shortly after those reports surfaced, five-star defensive tackle and Penn State commit Thomas Holley told reporters that he spoke with O’Brien and the Nittany Lions coach told him the rumors were “not true.”

O’Brien’s NFL buyout was reduced from $13 million to $6.5 million in March, opening up doors for his return to the NFL.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Sunday, Dec. 29

There’s certainly plenty of smoke that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is primed for a return to the NFL.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien will be named head coach of the Houston Texans. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)It’s been making the news rounds the past couple of weeks, and now ESPN reports that O’Brien has emerged as the overwhelming favorite to become the next coach of the Houston Texans, and the two sides are working to get a deal in place within the next week.

Lions247 reports Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln five-star defensive tackle and Nittany Lions commit Thomas Holley spoke with O’Brien Saturday night regarding the ESPN report that O’Brien was in the process of working on a deal to become the Houston Texans next head coach.

“I just off the phone with him,” Holley told 247Sports Luke Stampini. “He said he isn’t going. It’s not true.”

The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reports that Texans owner Bob McNair said the search for the team’s next head coach “isn’t over.”

“The process continues,” he said. “We have other interviews scheduled next week. It isn’t over.”

CBSSports reports Chargers offensive coordinator and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be given strong consideration for the Texans job.

Reports surfaced Friday that Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was expected to accept the same position on Steve Sarkisian’s USC staff.

Now, DuckTerritory is reporting that Oregon has targeted Wilcox to replace the longtime outgoing DC Nick Aliotti. If the Ducks miss on Wilcox, they more than likely promote John Neal to the position.

There are all sorts of rumors flying around linking Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to the Detroit Lions job. However, it looks as if Kelly is likely to stay put.

Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder will become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator. VanGorder was defensive coordinator at Auburn, Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons.

Multiple sources tell us North Carolina assistant Walt Bell will be the new offensive coordinator at Arkansas State. He had been considered a leading candidate to take over for the departed Blake Anderson, but it looks like Bell will instead join Anderson instead.

InsideCarolina reports that Bell is receiving a two-year contract at $225,000 per year in his new position at Arkansas State, which is less than what UNC offered.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora could look to his former offensive coordinator and current Texas co-OC Darrell Wyatt as his next play caller.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Toledo Blade there are no plans to renegotiate with head coach Urban Meyer before next season, but he knows Ohio State “will have to face that music down the road.”

At Texas, there’s a lot of smoke around Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. If the Texas search drags until the BCSNCG, the speculation surrounding Fisher could reach a fever pitch.

Fisher hasn’t even issued a non-denial denial, saying only, “I’m going to talk about our team. That’s all I’m talking about. I ain’t getting into all the rumors.”

At some point, those rumors are likely to become a distraction for the Seminoles, who will play for the National Championship on January 6th.

The Dallas News reports Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson has begun to focus on at least a handful of candidates including Fisher, Baylor’s Art Briles. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong are also considered to be in the mix.

The News also reports that Alabama’s Nick Saban is a possibility, although that may be a long shot. Other candidates could also emerge.

Horns247 reports that Fisher’s counterpart in the National Championship Game, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, is not a candidate at Texas.

Mack Brown is contractually obligated to receive at least $500,000 annually through 2020, but Texas’ soon-to-be former head football coach is pushing for a lot more.

Don Evans, a former UT regent and one-time U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is involved with Brown’s buyout negotiations with school officials, said Joe Jamail, Brown’s attorney and Texas benefactor.

UCF head coach George O’Leary confirmed on Saturday that he has hired Paul Ferraro as the Knights new defensive coordinator.

Ferraro coached under O’Leary as a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1983 and also coached defensive backs on O’Leary’s staff at Georgia Tech in 1999-2000.

The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu reports new Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will make $600,000 a year. The length of the contract is unknown.

Sources tell us that West Virginia offensive line coach Ron Crook could be the leading candidate to take over the same job at Wake Forest.

Crook is a West Virginia native who arrived in Morgantown via Stanford prior to the 2013 season.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP

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Report: Penn State's Bill O'Brien to interview for Texans job

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien’s possible return to the NFL is looking more and more like a reality.

Is Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien ready to return to the NFL? (Photo: AP)O’Brien has been rumored to be one of the Texans’ top targets to replace Gary Kubiak, and according to Ian Rapoport on the NFL Network’s “Around the League Live,” O’Brien and the Texans agreed to an interview “after Christmas.”

With a track record of success both at the college and NFL levels, O’Brien is considered an especially valuable commodity.

O’Brien’s NFL buyout was reduced from $13 million to $6.5 million in March, and while that may still seem like a lot relative to other college buyouts, it is a relatively small sum for an NFL owner

Former Bears coach Lovie Smith has already interviewed for the Texans job.

O’Brien’s last NFL gig was as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator in 2011. He was announced as long-time Penn State coach Joe Paterno’s replacement in January 2012, and went 8-4 in his first season, followed by a 7-5 record in his second.

Photo: AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Monday, Dec. 9

It was just a matter of time before Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi’s name started being mentioned for this year’s head coach openings.

UConn has asked to interview Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi regarding its head coach opening. (Photo: AP)

UConn has asked to interview Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi regarding its head coach opening. (Photo: AP)

Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports reports that UConn has requested an interview Narduzzi about the Huskies’ coaching vacancy.

We reported yesterday that should Texas dump Mack Brown, they could pursue some big names like Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh or Jimbo Fisher.

Now, sources close to the situation tell us a decision on Brown is likely to drag out for a few days. Most believe Brown won’t go willingly. In other words, if Texas wants to make a change, it could be ugly.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida State may still be vulnerable to losing Jimbo Fisher, even though he has agreed to a contract extension.

CBS’ Jason La Canfora reports the Redskins could pursue Baylor coach Art Briles when Mike Shanahan is officially shown the door.

The Dallas Morning News says that Briles is likely to stay in Waco.

Rumors continue to circulate that the Texans could pursue Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.

Wake Forest has interviewed Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson. Clawson’s team won the MAC title by defeating Northern Illinois on Friday.

Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann gave coach Kyle Flood a vote of confidence. Then, Flood fired three assistants, including defensive coordinator Dave Cohen who had been accused of bullying.

New Wyoming coach Craig Bohl will be paid a base salary of $750,000 a year at the start with the opportunity to earn up to $1.2 million with incentives. His contract is for five years.

CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman reports that Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin is interviewing for the Boise State job today.

The Idaho Statesman reports that Broncos linebackers coach Bob Gregory will also interview for the job. Gregory and associate head coach Chris Strausser are believed to be the only two in-house candidates being considered.

Other candidates include Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Harsin. All three have ties to Boise State.

Jon Gruden won’t pursue any NFL or college jobs and is committed to ESPN for 2014.

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Baylor's Art Briles could be a candidate for Texans job

Even though Baylor coach Art Briles signed an extension in November, the National Football Post reports that he could be a prime candidate to replace former Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who was fired on Friday.

Baylor coach Art Briles is a candidate to replace Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak (Photo: Tony Gutierrez, AP)Houston owner Bob McNair has indicated the team will put a priority on finding a coach who has head coaching experience.

Briles has strong connections to Houston, having both played at coached at the University of Houston. In addition, Briles recruited Texans quarter-back Case Keenum out of high school to play for the Cougars.

Because Baylor is a private university, details of Briles’ contract are not available, but it is believed he has smaller buyouts that would allow him to go to the NFL or to the University of Texas.

McNair said during a press conference Friday that coaches with previous experience tended to have more success than coaches who were elevated from a coordinator position or other spot.

The NFP report also points out that former Bears coach Lovie Smith, a Texas native, also meets that criteria.

Photo: Tony Gutierrez, AP

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