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Texans hire O’Brien as their new coach

Former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien will reportedly be the Houston Texans new coach. (Reuters)

Former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien will reportedly be the Houston Texans new coach. (Reuters)

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien reached an agreement to become the Houston Texans’ new coach, the Houston Chronicle reported late Tuesday night.

An introductory press conference is reportedly scheduled for Saturday.

The Texans fired coach Gary Kubiak in early December, and they finished the season with 14 consecutive defeats. After going 2-14, Houston will make the first pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Before coaching the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, O’Brien was an assistant coach with the New England Patriots for six years and the offensive coordinator when they lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

He took over in State College in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal and managed to keep the Nittany Lions competitive despite NCAA sanctions.

O’Brien, 44, guided Penn State to 15-9 record. He was selected Big Ten coach of the year after the Nittany Lions finished 8-4 in 2012.

O’Brien interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns head coaching jobs last offseason. Penn State made it easier for O’Brien to leave for the NFL by reducing the buyout teams would have to pay the school for hiring him from $19.33 million to $6.48 million.

Wade Phillips took over as the Texans’ interim coach after Kubiak was fired following the team’s 2-11 start. Houston lost all three games under Phillips as part of the longest losing streak in franchise history.

Houston becomes the first NFL team to hire a new coach in the offseason. Five other teams fired their coaches Sunday or Monday, but the Texans had a head start on the search process after relieving Kubiak of his duties in-season.

Meanwhile, defensive line coach Larry Johnson will take over as interim head coach at Penn State during the search to replace O’Brien, according to a report by the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.

Johnson’s primary job will be to hold the Nittany Lions’ 2014 recruiting class together until a successor to O’Brien is named, according to Pennlive.com.

The leading contenders to replace O’Brien are Miami coach Al Golden and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Pennlive.com reported. Other names mentioned include former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak.

Golden and Munchak are former Penn State players.

Johnson has served on Penn State’s staff for 18 years and for the past 14 as the defensive line coach. One of his sons, Larry Jr., played at Penn State and was a two-time All-Pro with the Kansas City Chiefs.