The Houston Texans have hired Lovie Smith as their new head coach.

Smith, who is African American, is the second minority candidate to be hired this offseason after the Miami Dolphins brought on San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who is biracial, on Sunday.

Smith, 63, spent last season as Houston’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator, and he’ll take over for David Culley, who also is African American and was fired after just one season, under dubious circumstances.

Prior to the Texans, Smith spent 2016-2020 as the head coach at Illinois.


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“[Smith] is one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and an established leader,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. “A proven winner, Lovie has shown the ability to develop players both on and off the field for years. We had numerous discussions with countless coaches, executives, and players, and what revealed itself is that Lovie has both the leadership and people skills it takes to lead us forward. We both understand how much work is in front of us, but we embrace the responsibility and look forward to continuing to build a program that can have sustained success.”

Smith also coached the Chicago Bears for nine seasons and Tampa Bay for two seasons, ending in 2015.

He’s got his work cut out for him as he takes over a team amid a complete rebuild after jettisoning nearly all of their top talent over the past couple of years. The Texans finished 4-13 last season while the team’s starting QB Deshaun Watson did not play after a trade request while facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct.

The team holds the third overall pick in this year’s draft after not having a first-round pick since 2019, and it could acquire more first-rounders with a potential Watson deal.

Smith was 144-81 with the Bears, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance after the 2006 season, though he struggled in Tampa, going 2-14 in his first season and 6-10 the following year before his firing. His first NFL job was in 1996 as linebackers coach for the Buccaneers.

He was 17-39 at Illinois before being fired with one game left in his fifth season.

Elsewhere on Monday, the New Orleans Saints intend to promote their defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach.

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