This morning out at Reliant Stadium, perhaps already in the books by the time you read this, the Texans will introduce now former Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien as the third head football coach in their franchise's history.
As the head coach for the professional football team in the largest city in the biggest football state in our country, this is not just your garden-variety hire. Sure, I'm guessing Bill O'Brien has to fill out the normal H.R. paperwork we all do when we start a new job, but make no mistake, as head coach of the Houston Texans, he just immediately became our most discussed and scrutinized citizen in town.
At least until he and Rick Smith choose a quarterback in May's upcoming NFL Draft.
Sure, there will be a flowery press conference this morning (11 a.m. sharp, kids!) where O'Brien will say all the right things. The words "winning," "aggressive" "and disciplined" will all come up, I'm sure. Those are as standard "introductory press conference" fare as chicken breast, asparagus and potatoes are at an awards banquet dinner.
Over time, it will play itself out as to whether Bill O'Brien's Houston Texan teams practice what their new head coach will no doubt be preaching. I think the good news for Texan fans is that O'Brien's track record, both on the field at Penn State and previous stops, and off the field in his private life indicate that whatever he says today will not just be rhetoric.
Bill O'Brien is smart, innovative, disciplined, adaptable, essentially he hits all the checkpoints Bob McNair outlined as the traits he'd be looking for in the Texans' new head coach in his press conference where he cut loose O'Brien's predecessor, Gary Kubiak.
In the most grotesque example of flawed logic and lazy analysis, skeptics will point to O'Brien as a Bill Belichick disciple, and point to the failures of other apples off the "Belichick tree" as a reason to be concerned about Bill O'Brien. By that logic, Charlie Weis' arrogance and inability to develop talent, Romeo Crennel's comical situational tone deafness, and Josh McDaniels' love affair with Tim Tebow are all reasons Bill O'Brien will fail.
It makes no sense. Those guys failed because they were flawed to begin with. Bill O'Brien is not them. (Thank God.)
So as you prepare for the next era of Houston Texans football, here are a few required bits of reading or viewing to get acquainted with Bill O'Brien:
5. Bill O'Brien is a great family guy O'Brien and is wife, Colleen, have two boys, Jack, 11. and Michael, 8. Jack suffers from a neurological disorder called Lissencephaly, where he is in a wheelchair and suffers from nearly daily seizures. Here is a video of O'Brien talking about dealing with that at a media day while he was at Penn State:
Go read up onLissencephaly
. Needless to say, O'Brien's ability to compartmentalize and deal with adversity is unquestioned.
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4. Bill O'Brien is a relentless worker. Despite O'Brien's self-deprecating quip at the end of the last video where he attributes the smarts of his younger son Michael to his wife, O'Brien is highly intelligent, an Ivy Leaguer (Brown University), and a tireless worker. I recommend a piece my former radio partner, John Harris, wrote for the Houston Chronicle. Harris was a former teammate of O'Brien's back in college at Brown, and tells great stories of O'Brien's insatiable desire to succeed and his charisma while at Brown.
3. Bill O'Brien got kind of tired of the politics at Penn State. David Jones of pennlive.com wrote a much discussed column earlier this week that outlined a previously off the record conversation he had with O'Brien back in December, shortly after O'Brien cut loose assistant Ron Vanderlinden, one of two holdovers from the Paterno Era. There had been some backlash from the Paterno truthers, still a vocal faction apparently even in the still prevalent wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. When Jones brought up the Paterno backers, O'Brien went off and showed his hand a little bit as to what may have helped lead us to this day:
"You can print this: You can print that I don't really give a ---- what the 'Paterno people' think about what I do with this program. I've done everything I can to show respect to Coach Paterno. Everything in my power. So I could really care less about what the Paterno faction of people, or whatever you call them, think about what I do with the program. I'm tired of it.
"For any 'Paterno person' to have any objection to what I'm doing, it makes me wanna put my fist through this windshield right now."
He was just getting started:
"I'm trying to field the most competitive football team I can with near-death penalty ----ing sanctions. Every time I say something like that and somebody prints it, it's skewed as an excuse. And I'm not an excuse-maker. I'm trying to do the best I can for the kids in that program. That's all I care about is the kids in that program. As long as I'm the head football coach here."
"That's why, in probably about a month, they're gonna be ----ing looking for a new coach."
Here, the most vocal faction he will have to deal with is the Travelling Texans. This should be a more pleasant gig.
2. Bill O'Brien has no sacred cows. I think this video has probably been over dissected in terms of what it means to Bill O'Brien's likelihood of success or failure in Houston, but it won't stop me from posting it. Because I think it's hilarious watching O'Brien and Tom Brady almost murder each other during a Patriots game two seasons ago:
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Underrated parts of that video -- Tiquan Underwood's flat top, Bill Belichick's Eddie Munster hair, and Aaron Hernandez in something other than an orange jumpsuit.
1. Bill O'Brien on quarterbacking If you're looking for the manifesto on what O'Brien will be looking for in May, here you go...
Starting January 2, 2014, listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.