After two decades coaching in the college and professional ranks, Bill O'Brien is heading an NFL team for the first time. The Houston Texans named him their head coach in January 2014.
Born in Dorchester, Mass., on Oct. 23, 1969, O'Brien played three seasons as a linebacker and defensive end at Brown University. He graduated in 1992 and spent the next two seasons on Brown's coaching staff. O'Brien joined Georgia Tech University's staff as a graduate assistant in 1995 and was promoted to running backs coach three years later. The Yellow Jackets won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship and defeated the University of Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl during O'Brien's first season in that position. He was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2001 season, which saw quarterback George Godsey set new school records for passing yards and completions. In 2002, his final year with Georgia Tech, he served as assistant head coach. He then spent two seasons as running backs coach at the University of Maryland, followed by another two seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Duke University.
O'Brien entered the NFL in 2007 as an offensive assistant with the New England Patriots. New England promoted him to wide receivers coach in 2008 and named quarterbacks coach the following year. He spent two seasons in that role before having offensive coordinator added to his title in 2011. The Patriots were first in the American Football Conference in scoring in 2011 and second in the NFL in total offense and passing yards. They won their final eight games to finish the season 13-3 and advanced to the Super Bowl.
In January 2012, O'Brien returned to college football as head coach at Penn State University. His job became harder that July when the NCAA handed the team a four-year ban from postseason games and strict recruiting sanctions. The Nittany Lions lost their season's first two games but rallied to win eight of the next 10. Penn State ended the season by beating the University of Wisconsin, that year's Big Ten champion, in overtime. O'Brien's eight wins made him the most successful rookie coach in the history of Penn State's football program.
This triumph over adversity didn't go unnoticed. O'Brien won numerous honors, including the 2012 Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award. Penn State upset two Top 20 teams during the 2013 season and finished 7-5.