Early start counts for assistants, too

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
6:00
PM ET
HOUSTON -- The Texans' early start to their coaching search ensured that they'd be able to approach anyone they chose to fill the position and it also allowed a quick end to the process.

Now here's a different benefit.

Being the first team to hire a head coach also means having your pick among the assistant coach pool.

Of course, part of that work is done even before someone becomes a head coach. There's no doubt Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith started planning their staffs before they were officially hired.

These are important decisions that can impact a players' development, which in turn can have a major impact on the Texans' future.

O'Brien plans to bring in coaches with whom he's comfortable. We've talked about the likelihood that Romeo Crennel becomes defensive coordinator. Today Gil Brandt reported Brian Ferentz, the son of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, will come to Houston as offensive line coach. Brian Ferentz was a tight ends coach for the New England Patriots the year O'Brien was offensive coordinator.

Some of the Texans' new assistant coaches will come from the staff O'Brien had at Penn State.

To that end, Penn State announced today that four assistant coaches resigned -- defensive coordinator John Butler, receivers coach Stan Hixon, running backs coach Charles London and safeties coach Anthony Midget. Their strength and conditioning staff also resigned and so did Jim Bernhardt, the special assistant to the head coach, who O'Brien describes as his right-hand man. Penn State did not announce the reason for their departure, but they will be joining O'Brien in Houston according to a source.

Here's an overview of those four coaches' résumés:

Butler: Has been a college assistant coach since 1995, beginning at his alma mater Catholic University. He was a graduate assistant at Texas, then worked at Midwestern State, Southwest Texas State, Harvard, Minnesota and South Carolina before joining O'Brien's staff at Penn State as the defensive backs coach. A year ago Butler became the defensive coordinator.

Hixon: Started his coaching career in 1980 as an assistant at Morehead State. He spent 24 seasons as a college assistant before becoming an NFL receivers coach. That job came with the Washington Redskins in 2004 until the end of the 2009 season when he was out with a head coaching change. Hixon then coached receivers with the Buffalo Bills for two seasons before joining O'Brien's staff as receivers coach and assistant head coach.

London: Served as a graduate assistant at his alma mater Duke in 2004 and 2005 before becoming the running backs coach. He then spent three years as an offensive assistant with the Chicago Bears and a year as a scout for the Philadelphia Eagles. Before joining O'Brien's staff as the running backs coach, London was an offensive assistant for the Tennessee Titans.

Midget: Graduate assistant at Virginia Tech before coaching at Georgia State where he was a defensive coordinator in 2012. He joined O'Brien's staff as safeties coach last year.

Tania Ganguli

ESPN Houston Texans reporter

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