Texans candidate watch: Lovie Smith

Lovie Smith is the first name mentioned when talking about filling the Houston Texans' vacant head coaching job.

During the Friday morning press conference to announce then-head coach Gary Kubiak's firing, owner Bob McNair said the Texans would speak with coaches who weren't currently coaching and that Smith was "a good example of that." In the days since it became more clear that Smith was a top candidate for the job, fitting McNair's desire to hire someone with head coaching and NFL experience.

Smith is one candidate who makes a lot of sense for Houston. The fact that he's a Texas native could play into his decision. The Texans won't be the only team looking for a head coach this offseason.

Here's what you need to know about Smith:

  • Former player? Linebacker and safety at the University of Tulsa

  • Coaching debut: Should we go all the way back? 1980 at Big Sandy High School in Big Sandy, Texas. His first college job was as the linebackers coach at Tulsa in 1983.

  • NFL coaching debut: 1996 as the Buccaneers' linebackers coach.

  • Significant stop: Smith served as the Rams defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. In his final season there he was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. That 2001 Rams team lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

  • Head-coaching experience: The Chicago Bears hired Smith in 2004 and he spent nine seasons with the team and only presided over three losing seasons. Smith's head coaching record is 81-63. The Bears were NFC Champions in 2006 before losing to the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.

  • How did it end? Many people scratched their heads at this one, given that Smith's Bears went 10-6 in his final season. They did miss the playoffs in that season and lost five of their last eight games after starting the season 7-1. (One loss came at home on a rainy night to the Texans). Here's what Bears general manager Phil Emery told Robert Klemko of MMQB.com this summer about firing Smith: "We were in a position where if he stayed, he would be picking his fifth offensive coordinator. Part of it was because I really believe looking at a team that if you’re going to have success, the most important relationship is between the head coach and the quarterback. I like our quarterback. I think Jay Cutler is very talented. He wants to improve. I know he needed to improve for us to be a championship team. When we were looking at making a change we knew that if we were going to do it we were going to make that the focus point. We had to work from that end." The Bears are currently 6-6.