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HOUSTON The Houston Texans are reportedly scrambling to finalize a deal with Penn State coach Bill O Brien to become the team s new head coach before other team s snag, according to an ESPN report.

ESPN s Chris Mortenson reported on NFL Live that it could be less than 24 hours before the former Big 10 Coach of the Year is named the new head coach of the Texans. On Saturday, the sports news outlet reported that O Brien had become the overwhelming favorite for the Texans coaching vacancy.

After the NFL season finished Sunday, teams wasted no time in severing ties with their head coaches. Five coaches were given their walking papers including Mike Shanahan in Washington and Jim Schwartz in Detroit.

O Brien is expected to be a candidate for several of the new openings, but the Texans have the advantage that they got an earlier start to their coaching search after firing coach Gary Kubiak in early December.

Once the Texans have a new coach in place, they can turn their full attention to offseason priorities, which include scouting prospects with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft in mind.

The Houston Chronicle reported that O Brien met with Texans owner Bob McNair and general manager Rick Smith last week. The report said they have also interviewed former Bears coach Lovie Smith and interim coach Wade Phillips.

Lovie Smith is expected to a top candidate with other NFL coaching searches. If the Texans did interview Smith, it would satisfy the requirements set forth by the Rooney Rule, which requires that at least one minority candidate be interview before a head coach is hired.

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