Jeff Gravley

Gravley: State responds with win over Wake, but what's next?

Posted November 10, 2012
Updated November 11, 2012

As he does after every home game, NC State coach Tom O'Brien stood with his team as the band played the Alma Mater. As soon as the final note was sounded, O'Brien took the hat he was holding over his heart, lifted it high and gave it a wave punctuated with a "Yeah baby!"

The Wolfpack's win over Wake Forest was as much relief as it was reward. A third consecutive loss would have put O'Brien in scalding water that he may not have escaped. He may not have even coached the final two games on the Wolfpack's schedule.

Instead, O'Brien and his squad will play three more games which will include the program's third bowl game in a row and fourth under O'Brien.

With the lack of bowl eligible teams in the ACC, State's bowl destination could be better than their record.

Winning at Clemson will be incredibly difficult from a talent standpoint, and after last year's 37-13 thumping the Pack put on the Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The irony of State's last regular season game is O'Brien will go against the man who was his defensive coordinator at Boston College. It will most certainly be the final game for coach Frank Spaziani.   

Let's play hypothetical here. With two wins in their last three games, NC State would finish the season 8-5, matching last year's mark and be one win shy of the year before. So in the last three years O'Brien's record would be 25-14. Is that a fireable record?

Tom O'Brien knows the microscope is aimed at him by the NC State administration. But the evaluation won't just focus of the last three years, it will be a view of his six-year tenure. Have they won enough?Where are they in recruiting? Have fan interest and financial contributions waned? Has the NCAA been on campus? 

A group of people won't decide how long Tom O'Brien will be the head coach, Director of Athletics Debbie Yow will. In her first press conference as AD, she said the university would provide the resources all of their coaches would need to be successful. Being a perennial top 25 program is part of her definition of success. In the last six years under Tom O'Brien, NC State has finished the season in the AP top 25 once, in 2010 when they were 25th. 

Yow is not afraid to make coaching changes. She has at NC State and did at Maryland. So far, O'Brien has been able to avoid an early exit with games like the 37-6 win over Wake Forest and the miracle rally against Maryland last year. Those are the kind of games that can cool the furnace. 


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  • doser Nov 12, 2012

    Sat. was a trap game for Wake, overlooked NCSU (after their great showing against UVA,) with a real team in ND on thier slate for this Sat!

  • dragline Nov 12, 2012

    its time for TOB to go. Yes lets please look at recruiting because I dont see any 4-5 star talent coming in. Thats the type of players NCSU needs to be able to compete on a national level. Mrs Yow...please pull the trigger at the end of the bowl game and hire someone with a personality who can motivate and recruit talented football players.

  • Toddler10-21 Nov 12, 2012

    I with you packfan1983.

  • PackFan1983 Nov 11, 2012

    What's next is TOB needs to be let go. Why would NCSU fans and Yow want a NCAA championship for basketball but settle for second-tier bowl games as the measure of success for football. We should, at a minimum, be looking for BCS bowl success and a consistent Top 25 ranking in football. TOB has never proven, at NCSU or elsewhere, that he is a coach that can reach that level. Stop wasting our time, ticket money and another season. Not interested in going to a Belk, Kohl, or Dress Barn Bowl!

  • StunGunn Nov 11, 2012

    What's next for State is a tough game against a good Clemson team, at Death Valley, but it's not an impossible win for State. Then, there's hapless BC at CF. State just might get a decent bowl, and TOB will be back. His seat may have cooled off a bit after thumping WF, but TOB's buns are still toasty, and his chestnuts might be roasting on the open fire if State slips up down the stretch.

  • Toddler10-21 Nov 11, 2012

    The toilet bowl, and everyone is happy.

  • Honesty first Nov 11, 2012

    Toby will get NCSU 7-8 wins every year as long as they keep playing UAB and Western Carolina. That will get you to teh Music or Belk Bowl just about every year

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Nov 11, 2012

    State only gets one big upset per season. They got that with FSU. Last year it was Clemson. State hopefully will finish 7-5 if they can avoid an upset by BC. If they wind up going to a better Bowl Game than expected, they could finish 7-6. Not bad. But definitely not the banner year fans were expecting. Even 8-5 is not ideal and definitely not Top 25 material.

  • duane11 Nov 11, 2012

    what's next, who knows?..jeckyll, or hyde?..a win over clemson would be huge for the Pack, and not an impossible task if the right team shows up...clemson had just as much talent last yr as this yr...its pretty easy to see that the acc is a sub-par league, and going to 3 straight bowls aint bad..if NCSU can win 3 more games, they just might squeak into the top would be hard for them not to with a bowl victory, and victories over fsu and clemson

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