Texans to hire Denver O-coordinator Kubiak as coach

Updated: January 23, 2006, 9:46 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans will hire Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to take over the worst team in the league and help decide what to do with the first pick in the draft.

Gary Kubiak
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesGary Kubiak will leave the Broncos -- the organization he has been with for the last 11 years -- to become the head coach of the Houston Texans.

Texans owner Bob McNair said during a Sunday news conference that the hiring won't be completed until later in the week because the Texans could not negotiate a contract with Kubiak until the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs.

McNair's announcement came about an hour after Denver lost to Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game.

"Hopefully we'll have him down here by the middle of the week and he will then be assembling a staff," McNair said.

McNair said he planned to speak with Kubiak later Sunday.

There's been speculation for weeks that Kubiak would become the Texans' second coach, replacing Dom Capers.

Capers was fired a day after Houston finished its season 2-14. He had led the team since its inception four seasons ago.

Houston won four games in its first season, five in 2003 and seven last season before its 2005 meltdown.

Kubiak has been a highly regarded coaching prospects for several years, but this will be his first head coaching job at any level. He spent the last 11 years with Mike Shanahan in Denver, helping the team to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1998 and 1999.

"To lose him is going to be tough," Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. "He really helped me step up in my career. We'll miss him but at the same time you're excited for him. He deserves it and he's a great football coach."

McNair said the improvements Plummer made under Kubiak's tutelage were a big draw.

"They've made great strides in improving the performance of Jake Plummer and I think Gary's responsible for that," he said.

The Texans formally interviewed four offensive coordinators and six total candidates, but Kubiak was the front-runner from the beginning. It certainly didn't hurt that he played in Denver for Dan Reeves, who is working for Houston as a consultant to McNair.

McNair said he chose Kubiak because he wants to revive Houston's sagging offense, which was ranked 30th in the league and managed just 253.3 yards per game in 2005.

"I think that the biggest challenge that we have is from the standpoint of putting together an effective offense," McNair said. "We've had difficulty with that process in the past."

Kubiak will have to immediately get to work on helping the team decide what to do with its No. 1 pick in April's draft.

A Broncos source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen last week that the Texans told USC that Reggie Bush would be selected with the No. 1 pick, despite a rise in public sentiment after the Rose Bowl that Houston select Texas quarterback Vince Young.

That assurance was given because it was in line with Kubiak's philosophy.

A Broncos source told Mortensen that Kubiak believes current Houston quarterback David Carr can flourish with a new offense headlined by Bush and wide receiver Andre Johnson.

Kubiak, a Houston native and former Texas A&M quarterback, played for Reeves and backed up John Elway from 1983-91. His NFL playing career was mostly forgettable, although he played in 11 postseason games and had a 4-1 record as a starter.

He returned briefly to coach at his alma mater -- in College Station, about 90 miles from Houston -- then joined Shanahan on George Seifert's staff in San Francisco in 1994. With Shanahan as the offensive coordinator and Kubiak as the quarterbacks coach, the 49ers won the Super Bowl and Steve Young was named the MVP.

Shanahan became the Broncos' coach the following season and took Kubiak with him. Since then, the Broncos have had one of the league's top 10 offenses in 10 of 11 seasons. The Broncos ranked fifth in total offense in 2005.

Kubiak was a candidate for the job the first time around and was interviewed in 2001 before the Texans picked Capers.

McNair said Kubiak was much more prepared for the interview this time and that he was "very impressive." He said he told Kubiak after the 2001 interview that he thought he needed "a little more experience" before he became a head coach.

McNair said Kubiak recently told him: "'You were right back then, but I can just tell you I'm ready now.'"

"And I thought he was," McNair said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.