NC State says goodbye to head coach O’Brien after 7-5 regular season
RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State has fired football coach Tom O'Brien after six seasons, four of which were good enough to get the Wolfpack into a bowl but none that could get them to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Athletic director Debbie Yow made the announcement Sunday, one day after the Wolfpack finished a 7-5 regular season with a win against Boston College.
O'Brien went 40-35 after coming to Raleigh from BC following the 2006 season. He took the Wolfpack to three bowl games, but won't coach in a fourth when NC State receives its bid next week.
NC State says offensive coordinator Dana Bible will be the interim coach for the bowl game. All other assistants are staying to continue bowl preparations.
"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 said in a statement issued by the school.
The 64-year-old O'Brien, who went 75-45 in 10 seasons at BC with eight consecutive bowl berths before coming here, said at his December 2006 hiring that it was "NC State or bust for me."
In his statement Sunday, O'Brien said he is looking "forward to life after football."
His teams were just 22-26 in ACC play and finished above .500 in the league just once, going 5-3 in 2010. He was 1-14 in Atlantic Division road games.
Only three ACC teams -- No. 13 Florida State (10-2), No. 15 Clemson (10-2) and rival North Carolina (8-4) -- had better overall records this season than the Wolfpack, who were 4-4 in the league.
That was good for third in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State and Clemson -- exactly where they were picked in the preseason poll.
But consistency was a problem all season.
They opened with a 14-point loss to a Tennessee team that went on to finish 5-7. They blew a late 10-point lead and allowed an ACC-record 566 yards passing in a loss at Miami. They were routed at home 33-6 by a last-place Virginia team that had lost six in a row and they gave up 62 points in a loss at Clemson.
Not even a thrilling upset of then-No. 3 Florida State on Oct. 6 could save O'Brien's job.
O'Brien also faced some questions in the spring of 2011, when he parted ways with three-year starting quarterback Russell Wilson, who was attempting to play both minor-league baseball and football at the high FBS level.
Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for his senior season, led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and wound up winning the job with the Seattle Seahawks.
O'Brien's choice certainly appeared justified when Mike Glennon -- who took over for Wilson -- led the ACC in passing this season, averaging 304 yards.
The school says a national search for O'Brien's replacement will begin immediately.