College Football: It's official: O'Brien coming to N.C. State

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 8, 2006

By Aaron Beard

Associated Press

RALEIGH — North Carolina State wrapped up a quick search for a football coach by hiring Tom O’Brien away from conference rival Boston College on Friday.

The 58-year-old O’Brien coached the Eagles for 10 years, compiling a 75-45 record and appearing in eight straight bowl games. This season, he led the Eagles to a 9-3 record and an appearance in the Meineke Bowl against Navy later this month. His teams have won six straight, the longest active bowl winning streak in the nation.

“When you think of integrity you think of Tom O’Brien,” N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler said in a statement issued by the university.

“He is one of an elite group of coaches who have enjoyed high levels of success on the field and in the classroom. I have every confidence that he will lead N.C. State to national prominence in both of those areas.”

O’Brien replaces Chuck Amato — a former Wolfpack linebacker — who was fired Nov. 26, the day after his team closed the season with seven straight losses to finish 3-9. Amato was 49-37 and led the Wolfpack to five bowl games in seven seasons, but he went 25-31 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and never finished higher than fourth.

“They’ve hired what I believe to be the best coach that was possibly available to us,” said Wendell Murphy, chairman of the university’s board of trustees. “I like the way he wins on the field and the way his student-athletes go to class and graduate and don’t embarrass the university. I don’t see how we could have done any better.”

O’Brien won’t coach the Eagles in the bowl game, Boston College athletics director Gene DeFilippo said. Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani will serve as interim head coach.

O’Brien met with the team Friday evening, DeFilippo said.

“I want to thank Tom for 10 really, really great years at Boston College,” DeFilippo said. “He left this program in a lot better shape than the program he found.”

Boston College was 9-15 in the two seasons before O’Brien came to the school.

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 North Carolina in 1956.

O’Brien signed a seven-year deal that will pay him a base salary of $240,000 and a total of $1.1 million a year, N.C. State said. The school scheduled a news conference for Saturday to officially introduce O’Brien as coach.

The hiring also adds spice to an ACC Atlantic 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.

“When Daniel was preparing for his first start and as I would quiz him during the week, the word ‘discipline’ came up in just about every context,” said Johnny Evans, Daniel’s father and a former quarterback and All-American punter for the Wolfpack. “That’s a direct reflection on the leadership of Tom O’Brien.”