O'Brien in 2012
|Position:||Head coach/general manager|
|Born:||October 23, 1969|
|High school:||St. John's Prep|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||52–46 (.531)|
|Career:||NCAA: 15–9 (.625) |
NFL: 54–50 (.519)
|Coaching stats at PFR|
William James O'Brien (born October 23, 1969) is an American football coach who is currently the head coach and general manager of the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). He was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2012 to 2013.
O'Brien began his coaching career in 1993 at Brown University before spending more than a decade coaching in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). He joined the New England Patriots in 2007, where he eventually served as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 2011. In 2012, he was hired by Penn State to take over a program that had just endured the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. In his first season as head coach, he led the team to an 8–4 record and won ESPN's National Coach of the Year award. After the 2012 season, O'Brien garnered significant interest to return to the National Football League (NFL) as a head coach and interviewed with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns. O'Brien decided to stay at Penn State, citing that it would send a poor message to leave after just one season. After his second season, he left Penn State to become the head coach of the Texans.
O'Brien was born on October 23, 1969, in Dorchester, Massachusetts to John O'Brien and Anne Murphy O'Brien. He grew up in Andover, Massachusetts with his parents and two brothers, John and Tom. After graduating from St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, O'Brien attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he played defensive end and linebacker for the Brown Bears from 1990 to 1992.
O'Brien's first coaching position was at Brown, where he coached tight ends in 1993 and inside linebackers in 1994. He then spent the next three seasons (1995–1997) as an offensive graduate assistant at Georgia Tech.
He then coached the Yellow Jackets' running backs from the 1998 season through 2000 season. In 1999, running back Sean Gregory ran for 837 yards with six touchdowns. In 2000, running back Joe Burns ran for 908 yards with 12 touchdowns.
From 2001 to 2002, O'Brien served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and was named an assistant head coach for the 2002 season. In 2002, O'Brien was hired as Notre Dame's offensive Coordinator before George O'Leary was dismissed. As offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 2001 and 2002, his teams averaged 31 and 21.5 points per game, respectively as the teams went 9–4 and 7–6. In 2001, running back Joe Burns ran for 1,165 yards with 14 touchdowns and quarterback George Godsey threw for 3,085 yards with 18 touchdowns. In 2002 under Chan Gailey, running back Tony Hollings ran for 633 yards with 11 touchdowns and wide receiver Kerry Watkins got 1,050 yards and 5 touchdowns.
In 2003, he left to coach running backs at the University of Maryland, where he spent two seasons. In 2003, RB Josh Allen ran for 922 yards with 8 touchdowns while Bruce Perry ran for 713 yards and 6 touchdowns.
New England Patriots
After two seasons with Duke, O'Brien was hired by the New England Patriots on February 27, 2007 as an offensive assistant. On February 21, 2008, O'Brien was promoted to wide receivers coach. He became the quarterbacks coach and offensive play-caller following the 2008 season after the departure of quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in February 2011.
The Patriots gave the Jacksonville Jaguars permission to interview O'Brien for their head coaching vacancy during the Patriots' playoff bye week; O'Brien was scheduled for an interview, but never actually interviewed for the job. Instead, O'Brien interviewed with Penn State staff on January 5, 2012, was offered the head coach position, and signed a four-year contract to become the Nittany Lions' coach. O'Brien continued as New England's offensive coordinator through Super Bowl XLVI.
Response to sanctions
Due to the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, on July 24, 2012, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sanctioned Penn State with a four-year postseason ban, and loss of 40 scholarships over a four-year period.
In light of these NCAA sanctions, O'Brien issued the following statement:
"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.
I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university".
Because of a clause in his contract, O'Brien received an automatic four-year extension that guaranteed an extra year for every year of sanctions put on the program.
In his first game as Penn State's head coach, the Nittany Lions lost to the Ohio University Bobcats, 24–14. O'Brien's first win as the Penn State head coach took place on September 15, 2012, with a 34–7 win against the United States Naval Academy at Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA. Despite the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, his first season as coach at Penn State was far more successful than anticipated and resulted in a final record of 8–4. O'Brien collected the most wins for a first-year head coach in school history and was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year on November 27, 2012.
O'Brien was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and the coaches. On December 8, 2012, O'Brien was named the national coach of the year by ESPN. On January 17, 2013, O'Brien was awarded the 2012 Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award.
In January 2013, O'Brien interviewed for the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles. However, he decided to remain at Penn State, stating: "I'm not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that's what I am going to do. I'm not gonna cut and run after one year, that's for sure."
After the firing of Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans, multiple reports stated that O'Brien showed interest in going back to the NFL. On December 29, 2013, he met with the Texans on further discussion of the head coaching job for the Texans. The Texans finished 2–14 in the 2013 NFL season, and owned the first overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, which they used on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. O'Brien was officially introduced as the Texans head coach on January 2, 2014.
In his third season, the Texans, for a third consecutive year, finished with a 9–7 record and won their second consecutive AFC South title. The Texans defeated the Oakland Raiders 27–14 in the Wild Card Round but then lost in the Divisional Round 34–16 to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. 
O'Brien's fourth season marked his first season as an NFL head coach in which his team did not finish with a winning record as the team ended with a 4–12 record, losing nine of their final ten games. This season saw the debut of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who the Texans selected in the first round with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, Watson's season was prematurely ended after he suffered a torn ACL in practice prior to Week 9, which contributed to the team's collapse along with various other injuries.
On January 13, 2018, O'Brien received a four-year extension. In his fifth season, the Texans bounced back and finished atop the division with an 11–5 record before losing in the Wild Card Round for the second time in four years, this time to the rival Indianapolis Colts 21–7.
In his sixth season, Houston finished 10–6 and captured another division title. The Texans outlasted the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round with a 22–19 victory in overtime. They were eliminated in the Divisional round with a 51–31 loss to the eventual Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City Chiefs.
On January 28, 2020, O'Brien was appointed to the role of general manager for the Texans. The Texans went the entire 2019 season with the position vacant. During the offseason, O'Brien traded wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, a move that was heavily criticized.
Head coaching record
|Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten Conference) (2012–2013)|
|2012||Penn State||8–4||6–2||2nd (Leaders)||‡|
|2013||Penn State||7–5||4–4||3rd (Leaders)||‡|
|Penn State:||15–9||10–6||‡ Ineligible for Big Ten title, bowl game and Coaches Poll|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|HOU||2014||9||7||0||.563||2nd in AFC South||–||–||–||–|
|HOU||2015||9||7||0||.563||1st in AFC South||0||1||.000||Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Wild Card Game|
|HOU||2016||9||7||0||.563||1st in AFC South||1||1||.500||Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Divisional Game|
|HOU||2017||4||12||0||.250||4th in AFC South||–||–||–||–|
|HOU||2018||11||5||0||.688||1st in AFC South||0||1||.000||Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Wild Card Game|
|HOU||2019||10||6||0||.625||1st in AFC South||1||1||.500||Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Divisional Game|
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Penn State's Bill O'Brien has reached an agreement to become the new coach of the Houston Texans, according to league sources.
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