The Wolfpack are looking for a new head coach as Debbie Yow sends O'Brien packing after six years at the helm in Raleigh.
The first coaching turnover in this year's college football offseason has occurred, and it's probably not who you were expecting. Tom O'Brien, Wolfpack coach and owner of a 5-1 record against UNC in Raleigh, has been shown the door. Whether this is a surpise or not depends on your perspective. The national media looks to be treating it this way, but localy many were convinced he was gone after last season, and the inexplicable rout at the hands of Virginia this year did not help. Still, State finished 7-5 and are headed to a bowl, while there are quite a few ACC coaches with much worse records who have not been fired yet.
This is not Debbie Yow's first coaching change since taking over 30 months ago (in fact, it's her seventh). Like with Sidney Lowe's firing, the press release promises a national search, and I would expect a similar result that does not involve any of the names State fans are probably batting around at the moment. The go-to rumors, of course, will be Bill Cowher — N.C. State grad, Raleigh resident, Super Bow champion, and a man with absolutely no reason to accept the job — and James Franklin, the Vanderbilt coach who Debbie Yow wanted to hire at Maryland. Franklin was said to have rejected an offer to interview for a hypothetical Wolfpack job a few weeks ago in a now-deleted report; I wouldn't expect him to leave the SEC for an ACC job. I'm not sure who I would expect to take a job in which a 7-5 record is a fireable offense, in fact. Coupled with the down year in talent State looks to be facing, and bowl season could be a lot more entertaining for Tar heels fans than previously thought.
O'Brien leaves Raleigh with a 40-35 record, 22-26 in the ACC. In addition to that 5-1 record against the Tar Heels, he took State to four bowls in six seasons, winning two of three. Only once did his team finish the season with a conference record above .500 and a national ranking, and his 1-14 record on the road in the Atlantic Division was a constant source of frustration to his fans. His winning percentage (0.533) puts him squarely between Mike O'Cain (0.506) and Chuck Amato (0.570), both of whom left Raleigh involuntarily as well. I can't wait to see who State brings in next.
Come to think of it, Butch Davis is looking for work.