Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has informed members of his staff to be prepared for a move to the Houston Texans, and the school's director of athletics, Dave Joyner, is preparing to counter the potential loss with a push for Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.
O'Brien interviewed with the Texans last week, Rapoport said on NFL Network's "NFL GameDay Morning," while Joyner might fly to Tampa as early as Monday. While the interview went well, the Texans also have spoken to interim coach Wade Phillips and former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, and are continuing the interview process. The Texans also are showing interest in Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and plan to hire a new head coach by Tuesday.
O'Brien has engineered Penn State's impressive two-year navigation through major NCAA sanctions, but has told people he is ready for a return to the NFL. According to Rapoport, he is confident he will get the Texans job and actually interviewed with four NFL teams last offseason (the Eagles, Browns, Chargers and Cardinals). While O'Brien has been all Penn State could have hoped for in winning seven games this season with a limited number of scholarship players, Schiano has struggled mightily in his second season with the Bucs at 4-11. A loss today at New Orleans would drop Schiano's two-year record at Tampa Bay to 11-21.
Despite the struggles, NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported that Schiano has told his Bucs bosses: "I want to stay here. I want to be in the NFL. I want to be in Tampa."
The Nittany Lions, however, would be far more attracted to Schiano's track record as a college coach. He led Rutgers to six bowl appearances in his last seven seasons at the school, including an 11-2 mark in 2006.
Schiano was once considered the heir apparent to Joe Paterno at Penn State. He could be a strong fit for the Nittany Lions on multiple fronts, including the recruiting ties he established in the Northeast while establishing a winning program at Rutgers.