O'Brien takes over in Houston

Houston, TX ( - Bill O'Brien officially became the head coach of the Houston Texans on Friday.

O'Brien spent the past two seasons as the head coach at Penn State after a five-year run as an assistant with the New England Patriots. He'll take over a Houston team that lost its final 14 games of the season after winning its first two and finished with the worst record in the NFL.

"I'm really looking forward to bringing a winning team to Houston," said O'Brien at a Friday news conference. "I can't wait to get going, meet all the players and put together a winning football team here."

Reports of an agreement between O'Brien and the Texans surfaced earlier this week and Penn State said Thursday that O'Brien had left the university to take the vacancy in Houston.

O'Brien took over a tough situation at Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He guided the Nittany Lions to a 15-9 overall record amidst severe NCAA sanctions in his two seasons in Happy Valley.

"I love the players at Penn State and respect their toughness and resiliency," said O'Brien. "From the moment we got there, they did everything we asked of them."

O'Brien was apparently the top man on Houston's short-list of candidates that also included Lovie Smith, the former Chicago Bears coach who reportedly interviewed for the position before the 2013 season ended and on Thursday landed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We just feel like this man is the man to lead us in the future," said Texans general manager Rick Smith. "We're happy we got this man as our head football coach."

O'Brien also coached at Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke before heading to the NFL with the Patriots. He was first the quarterbacks coach in New England before taking over as offensive coordinator.

"This is going to be a challenging job, but one I look forward to," added O'Brien, who will become the third full-time head coach in Texans history, following Gary Kubiak and Dom Capers.

The Texans fired Kubiak on Dec. 6 with three games remaining in the disastrous season. Wade Phillips guided the team to its final three losses in an interim role.

"Our whole organization is committed to quality and excellence," said Texans owner Bob McNair. "What happened last year will not happen again."

Houston will have the first pick in April's NFL Draft.