The new year is ringing in new eras in Tampa Bay and Houston.
In Tampa Bay, people familiar with the negotiations say former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has reached an agreement to coach the Buccaneers.
Meanwhile, in Houston, two sources said Bill OBrien is leaving Penn State less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno and returning to the NFL with the Texans.
Also, sources in Tampa Bay say former Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will be the Buccaneers defensive coordinator.
Smith, 55, will replace Greg Schiano, fired Monday after going 4-12 this season and 11-21 in two years with the team. Frazier also was fired Monday.
Smith was 81-63 in nine seasons with Chicago, leading the 2006 team to the Super Bowl – where the Bears lost to the Colts. He was fired a year ago after the Bears finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
Smith was Tampa Bays linebackers coach under Tony Dungy from 1996 to 2000, then spent three seasons as the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator on Mike Martzs staff.
In State College, Pa., OBrien is bolting Penn State and a slew of players who pledged commitment to a team in its darkest hour for an NFL team that ended the season on a 14-game skid and 2-14 record.
OBrien, a former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, took on perhaps college footballs toughest job in January 2012, joining a school rattled by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Despite a lack of scholarships, a bowl ban, an overall sense of doom and player defections from the late Paternos roster, OBrien led the Nittany Lions to two winning seasons (8-4, 7-5).
After his debut season, OBrien interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns.
McDermott to talk with Washington
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will interview for Washingtons head coaching position this week.
McDermott, 39, joined the Panthers in 2011. His defense allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL and had a league-high 60 sacks.
Belcher’s mother suing Chiefs
The mother of former Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the team after exhuming his body so that his brain could be examined for evidence of a degenerative condition linked to concussions.
The lawsuit alleges Belcher was subjected to repetitive head trauma and that the Chiefs failed to provide adequate medical care before Belcher killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide last December. Shepherd is seeking a jury trial and $15,000 in damages.