NC State fires Tom O’Brien

By Jeniece Jamison & Daniel Neal

NC State fires Tom O’Brien

Football head coach Tom O’Brien was fired Sunday, one day after the Wolfpack picked up a victory over Boston College on Senior Day, marking the dawn of a new era in N.C. State football in a whirlwind 24 hours for the program.

O’Brien is the seventh coach to have his tenure end since Athletics Director Debbie Yow has been at the helm. He is owed $1.2 million over four years in his buyout.

“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,” O’Brien stated in a press release. “I’m proud of the young men that I have coached here, for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom.”

“I had high hopes this year, as did coach O’Brien,” Yow said.

According to Yow, the two met early Sunday and she made her decision that afternoon.

O’Brien led the Wolfpack to three consecutive bowl victories and three appearances in his six years at State. The Pack is bowl eligible this season and offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as the interim head coach for the game. Bible was also the offensive coordinator of Boston College, where O’Brien held a head coaching job prior to arriving at State in 2006.

“I know I didn’t see it coming,” Bible said. “As a coach you are focused on the now. He’s very proud of the programs we’ve built. He’s very proud of the way we’ve gone about the business of football and he’ll let his record stand as a man.”

Bible added, “We’re going to prepare ourselves and get ourselves successful to win the bowl game.”

A 40-35 overall record, including eight wins against Football Championship Division opponents, was not enough to carry his job into next season.The former head coach held a 22-26 record in the ACC and 11-19 in the Atlantic Division. His only road victory in the division came in this season’s bout with Maryland, which was decided by the Terrapins missing a last-second field goal. O’Brien had a lone winning season in the ACC in 2010. The Pack went 5-3 in the conference and finished the season with a No. 25 national ranking.

State was also a sub-500 team against other Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, posting a 32-35 record.

Yow said the program has created a search committee to find O’Brien’s successor. The program is seeking a coach with a proven track record, but is also considering coordinators as candidates.

Yow included academic integrity, citizenship, ability to recruit top players and building the program into a top-25 program as the defining factors in finding the next coach. Acquiring the best players in North Carolina will be the focus of the program’s future recruiting efforts, according to Yow.

She also said there were many factors in the decision to dismiss him, including losing 1,000 season-ticket holders this season.

The players received the news from a variety of sources, but the definitive voice came when Yow called a meeting at 3 p.m. to deliver the news to the student athletes.

“I was absolutely shocked,” senior center Camden Wentz said. “It was a crazy 24 hours of emotions. Even though he’s not going to be on the field with [us], we’re his players, so he coached us to be a certain way.”

“Me, personally, I want to win this game for O’Brien,” junior defensive back Dontae Johnson said. “I also want to win this for this university. It’s going to be a struggle to get over the fact that the guy that recruited me to come here is no longer here.”

Johnson also said that he will stay with the program despite the coaching change.

Amid a college football landscape of academic dishonesty and players receiving improper benefits, the program will receive an Academic Progress Rate score of 990 in the spring.

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