It what was a suprising move to most of the watchers of the NC State coaching search(myself included) Tom O'Brien was hired as a successor to Chuck Amato. Going into Thursday, Navy's Paul Johnson appeared to be the favorite though this was not necessarily coming from official channels. When it was all said and done by Thursday night O'Brien who had been eager to get out pro-sports centric Boston, impressed enough of the people in Raleigh that matter and was offered the job.
From the rival's perspective this is a good move for NC State. If you understand that Chuck Amato was only an abject failure when it came to his team's on the field performance and the number of quality wins against schools not named Florida State then it makes sense to bring in a consistent winner like O'Brien. The process of building a major college football team includes many aspects such as facility building, recruiting, fan base interest, fielding a competitive team and of course winning. Amato handled the first three parts very well, did so-so on the fourth, and ultimately failed in the fifth. Of course the first three are really things that happen at certain points and once they are done they can acts as a foundaiton for the latter two parts. O'Brien is completely capable of standing on top of the work Amato did and bringing the success Amato was obviously unable to provide. As a UNC fan, this is all good. With Butch Davis in Chapel Hill and O'Brien in Raleigh it raises the stakes of the annual game to more than just bragging rights. UNC and NC State are in opposite divisions, so if both programs climb in the ACC, a late November game could have ACC title implications or could be a preview of the title game. Granted this is a long shot but if both schools are winning it makes Triangle football matter again. And if Duke-UNC basketball has taught us anything it is that a rivalry between quality teams is far better than two losing rivals barely registering on the national radar.
As for reaction to the hire it was handled quite well and ended quickly with a good choice with some begrudging acknowledgement of Lee Fowler. Some Pack fans are seeing this as Herb Sendek II, but I think that is a judgment too hastily made by those who are too hung up on the personality and name aspects of a coach. When you also consider that NC State has had style but really no substance with Amato who also had the propensity for making a complete idiot of himself with the media I would think having a coach who is the opposite of that in every positive way would be a welcome change. If anything else NC State football should join UNC in experience a return to being a Top 25 presence and with Miami and FSU in some sort of dip the moment may be right to try and gain a foothold at the top of the ACC.