HOUSTON — The Houston Texans are turning to a familiar face to be their next head coach.
The Texans have named associate head coach and defensive coordinator Lovie Smith as their next head coach, the team finally confirmed Monday evening.
The team tweeted a cryptic image late in the afternoon that seemed to confirm what was widely reported hours before. By 6 p.m. the Texans finally made the decision public.
On Monday morning, the team officially named Smith as a candidate for the opening saying they “have completed additional discussions with Lovie Smith regarding our head coaching position.”
The Texans will introduce Smith as their new head coach at a news conference on Tuesday. KHOU 11 will stream the news conference on KHOU.com, our mobile app, Roku and FireTV.
This came the day after reports surfaced that Smith was being considered a candidate.
Smith replaces David Culley who was fired after just one season. Under Culley, the Texans went 4-13.
Smith has spent one season with the Texans, working with a defense that before and during the season lost stars like J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Zach Cunningham, and was second to last in the league in yards given up at 6,535 and sixth-worst in points allowed at 26.6, according to ESPN.
Smith brings a lot of head coaching experience to the position. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012, going 81-63 and leading them to a Super Bowl in 2006. He was also named AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2005.
He broke into the league with Tampa Bay as an assistant coach from 1996 to 1999 before going to the Rams as defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. That stint included an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI.
After his stint with the Bears, he would return to Tampa as head coach.
Smith is originally from Texas, born in Gladewater. He grew up in Big Sandy. He was on a Big Sandy high school team that went 14-0 and won a state title in 1975, according to the Houston Texans website. That team shut their opponents out 11 times.
He went on to play at Tulsa, both as defensive back and linebacker.
Aside from his pro coaching experience, Smith was head coach at Illinois from 2016 to 2020. His college coaching resume includes stops as an assistant at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio State.
Prior to hiring Smith, the Texans said they interviewed Brian Flores, Josh McCown, Kevin O'Connell, Joe Lombardi, Hines Ward, and Jonathan Gannon.
Statement from Brian Flores, who was a finalist for the job
Brian Flores was a finalist for the Texans job. His attorney released the following statement Monday.
"Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores’ goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL.
However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans’ head coach position and, after a great interview and mutual interest it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL."
Timeline of Texans head coaching search
Rookie head coach David Culley is fired by the Texans after just one season.
Brian Flores, who was recently let go by the Miami Dolphins, is the first official candidate to interview for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy. He has ties to General Manager Nick Caserio and Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby from their time with the New England Patriots.
Joe Lambardi, the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers, and Hines Ward, former Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver, each interview for the Texans’ head coaching job.
Jonathan Gannon, the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, interviews for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy. He the fourth official candidate to be interviewed.
Josh McCowan, a former NFL veteran quarterback who spent one season with the Texans, interviews for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy. He had interviewed for the job in the 2020 offseason prior to the hiring of David Culley. He is the fifth official candidate to be interviewed.
Kevin O’Connell, the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, interviews for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy. He is the sixth official candidate interviewed by the Texans.
Fired Miami Dolphins head coach and Texans coaching candidate Brian Flores sues the NFL and three of its teams, saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it "racially segregated and managed like a plantation."
KHOU 11’s sister station in Minneapolis, KARE 11, has confirmed that Kevin O’Connell, the current offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, will be the Minnesota Vikings' next head coach. He had interviewed for the Texans head coaching vacancy.
Reports surface that Lovie Smith is being considered as a candidate for the head coaching position. The news was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and later by the NFL Network's Ian Rappaport.
The Texans officially announced that they “have completed additional discussions with Lovie Smith regarding our head coaching position.”