Search begins for next NC State football coach
Posted November 25, 2012
Updated November 26, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — After six seasons and a 40-35 record, Tom O'Brien is out as head football coach at North Carolina State University, athletics director Debbie Yow said Sunday.
Less than 24 hours after a 27-10 win over Boston College finished the Wolfpack's regular-season at 7-5, O’Brien was “released” of his duties, Yow said.
"The reason we are doing it now is because there are many openings and time is of the essence to try and put in place the right person to lead us to the Top 25," Yow said.
O'Brien's buyout will pay him $1.2 million total over the next four years.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as the Wolfpack interim head coach for the upcoming bowl game. All other assistants will stay on staff and continue bowl preparations.
An internal search committee, which includes Yow, has already formed and met for the first time Sunday night to begin a search for a new head coach.
"It sounds to me that she (Yow) has somebody clearly in mind for this job," said Joe Ovies, co-host of the afternoon and evening sports talk show on 99.9 FM The Fan ESPN Radio.
Yow did not discuss a potential salary for a new head coach or a deadline on a hire, but did say that she would like to do it "sooner rather than later" and that "there are certainly people in the marketplace that are not viable for us."
O’Brien, 64, guided the Wolfpack to three consecutive bowl games and four in the past five seasons, but he never managed to crack the .500 mark in ACC play, posting a 22-26 record. NC State finished this season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the ACC.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have coached at North Carolina State University and I feel that the program is in a better place now than when I started,” said O’Brien. “I’m proud of the young men that I have coached here, for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom."
Yow said the ultimate goal of the NC State program is to be a perennial Top-25 team and that it can be done in part by attracting top in-state talent. She said she first met with O'Brien Friday about the direction of the program and made the decision Sunday to part ways.
"Coach O’Brien and agree on the goal of becoming a Top 25 program, we just don’t agree on what it takes to get there," Yow said.
Yow also pointed to a decline in ticket sales as a factor noting that it was an indication of the program's direction.
"We’ve lost over 1,000 season ticket holders in the last six years," Yow said. "I have to say that matters some in the direction of the program."
O'Brien leaves mark on NC State
NC State’s high point in 2012 came in a win over then-No. 3 Florida State, however the next three games saw a close call against Maryland followed by losses to UNC and Virginia.
In the last three seasons, O’Brien has led the Wolfpack to 24 wins. NC State had also defeated rival North Carolina five consecutive times before losing this season, 43-35.
O'Brien's 8-2 mark in bowl games in his career ranks tops among any head coach in terms of win percentage during the modern history of the bowl system. His 103 career wins entering the 2012 season placed him 19th among all active FBS head coaches.
However, O'Brien's teams had trouble winning within their own division during his tenure at NC State, going just 11-19 against ACC Atlantic Division teams and just 1-14 on the road against them in six seasons.
O’Brien, the 33rd head coach in NC State history, came to Raleigh from Boston College in Dec. 2006 and signed a 7-year deal that was to pay him $1.1 million annually. He later signed an extension under then-AD Lee Fowler that runs through 2015.
O’Brien got his coaching start at his alma matter Navy in 1975. He left for Virginia in 1982 where he stayed until 1997 when he became the head coach at Boston College.
O'Brien departs NC State with a winning percentage of .533 placing him fourth in program history among head coaches with at least five years on the sidelines behind Eddie Green (1909-13, .743), Dick Sheridan (1986-92, .637) and Chuck Amato (2000-06, .570).
"Coach O’Brien’s service to NC State over the last six years has been sincerely appreciated by Wolfpack Nation,” Yow said in a statement. “We especially appreciate his attention toward NCAA rules compliance, a value that will continue to be held by NC State. We wish him well in future pursuits.”
Seven former O'Brien head coaches have gone on to become collegiate head coaches including three current ACC head coaches - Miami's Al Golden, Virginia's Mike London and Boston College's Frank Spaziani.