N.C. State set to hire O'Brien

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2006

By Aaron Beard

Associated Press

RALEIGH — North Carolina State didn’t need to go far to find a new football coach. In fact, the school didn’t even have to leave its own division in the ACC.

N.C. State is set to hire Boston College’s Tom O’Brien and is working out final details of a contract, a university official said Thursday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because a contract has not been approved by the school’s board of trustees, whose personnel committee has scheduled a teleconference for today.

Once a deal is complete and O’Brien changes addresses, it will add spice to a division rivalry that began when Boston College became the ACC’s 12th member before the 2005 season. This year, N.C. State beat Boston College when first-time starter Daniel Evans threw the winning touchdown pass with 8.5 seconds left in a 17-15 victory.

O’Brien’s move to Raleigh would mark only the second time in league history that a football coach left one ACC school to lead another in the next season, the league said. The other time came when Jim Tatum moved from Maryland to UNC in 1956.

The SEC went through such an unusual move when football coach Tommy Tuberville left Mississippi to take over at Auburn after the 1998 season.

“I think (the fans) were upset because whatever school you’re a fan of, you think that’s the greatest one in the world and cannot imagine anyone leaving to go to another school,” Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone said. “And so when they do, it’s kind of like getting a divorce — and them taking the children.”

The Southeastern, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences don’t have policies in place regarding the movement of coaches from one school in the conference to another, the leagues said Thursday. A spokesman from the Big East Conference said there have been no in-league football coaching moves in its history.

Boone said some schools, including Ole Miss, include contract provisions that make a coach’s buyout higher if they leave for a conference competitor.

“The reason for that is the recruiting angle that can be leveraged against you,” Boone said.

Whether N.C. State is dealing with such a provision is unknown.

Wolfpack athletics director Lee Fowler did not returns calls to his office Thursday, while Neil Cornrich — O’Brien’s attorney of more than a decade — declined to comment on the reports when reached at his office Thursday in Beachwood, Ohio.

Boston College officials did not return multiple calls seeking comment, although a spokesman issued a statement Thursday acknowledging the reports.

“As you are no doubt aware, reports surfaced out of North Carolina yesterday afternoon and evening that N.C. State had (or would) offer Tom O’Brien its vacant head football coaching position,” spokesman Chris Cameron said in an e-mail.

“If and when N.C. State makes an announcement involving coach O’Brien, Boston College will respond accordingly. Meanwhile, Boston College has no comment on the situation.”

O’Brien led the Eagles to a 9-3 record and an appearance in the Meineke Bowl against Navy later this month. He dismissed rumors linking him to other coaching openings in a statement this week and told the Boston Globe, when reached at home Wednesday night, that he had received no official offer.

“Any announcement has to come out of North Carolina,” he said.