The news was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and later by the Associated Press.
The team confirmed they were talking to Smith about replacing David Culley who was fired after just one season. Under Culley, the Texans went 4-13.
Smith has spent one season with the Texans, working with a defense that before and during the season lost stars like J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Zach Cunningham, and was second to last in the league in yards given up at 6,535 and sixth-worst in points allowed at 26.6, according to ESPN.
If the team is looking for someone with NFL coaching experience, Smith would fit the bill. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012, going 81-63 and leading them to a Super Bowl in 2006. He was also named AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2005.
He broke into the league with Tampa Bay as an assistant coach from 1996 to 1999 before going to the Rams as defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. After his stint with the Bears, he would return to Tampa as head coach.
Smith is originally from Texas, born in Gladewater. He grew up in Big Sandy. He was on a Big Sandy high school team that went 14-0 and won a state title in 1975, according to the Houston Texans website. That team shut their opponents out 11 times.
He went on to play at Tulsa, both as defensive back and linebacker.
Aside from his pro coaching experience, Smith was head coach at Illinois from 2016 to 2020. His college coaching resume includes stops as an assistant at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State.
Smith joins other head coaching candidates, including Brian Flores, Josh McCown, Kevin O'Connell, Joe Lombardi, Hines Ward and Jonathan Gannon.