The Houston Texans are in talks with assistant coach Lovie Smith for their head coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the meetings told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team had not announced that Smith had interviewed for the job.
The 63-year-old Smith is currently the Texans’ associate head coach and defensive coordinator. He joined the team last offseason after spending 2016-20 as the head coach at Illinois.
The Texans fired David Culley, who is Black, after just one season as their coach. Smith, who is also Black, coached the Chicago Bears for nine seasons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons ending in 2015.
The Texans have interviewed multiple candidates over the last few weeks, including Brian Flores, Hines Ward, Josh McCown and Joe Lombardi. Flores, who is Black, was fired by the Dolphins despite posting winning records in the final two of his three seasons in Miami.
Flores sued the NFL, the Dolphins and two other teams last week over alleged racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers.
The Texans had been criticized by some in the media this week for even considering McCown for the position because the 42-year-old former NFL quarterback has never coached at any level aside from volunteer coaching on his son’s high school team. McCown spent part of the 2020 season on Houston’s practice squad before retiring following a 17-year career.
The Texans went 4-13 last season in a year when star quarterback Deshaun Watson did not play after a trade request and amid 22 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment or assault.
Smith was 144-81 with the Bears, leading them to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. He struggled in his stint with the Bucs, going 2-14 in his first season and 6-10 the following year before being let go.
Smith was 17-39 at Illinois before being fired with one game left in his fifth season. The Texas native began his coaching career in 1980 as the defensive coordinator for his high school alma mater in tiny Big Sandy, Texas, before moving on to college coaching in 1983.
His first NFL job came in 1996 when he was hired to coach linebackers for the Buccaneers.