The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't been made.
Less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno as coach of the Nittany Lions, O'Brien will return to the NFL as coach of the Texans. He was an offensive assistant with the New England Patriots from 2007-12.
O'Brien will become the third coach in Texans history, following Dom Capers, who led the team from its expansion season in 2002, and Gary Kubiak.
Kubiak took over after Capers was fired following Houston's 2-14 season in 2005. Kubiak went 61-64 and led Houston to its first two playoff appearances and two AFC South titles before being fired Dec. 5 in his eighth season.
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