How many coaching stints will end today in Raleigh?

If NC State defeats Boston College on Saturday, Tom O'Brien

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Boston College Head Coach, Frank Spaziani will almost certainly be fired after his BC Eagles play the NC State Wolfpack this afternoon in Carter-Finley Stadium. BC’s win total has steadily declined since Spaziani replaced Jeff Jagodzinski in 2009 – sinking to 2-9 for this season before our game today. Link

But the season’s many malfunctions seem minor when compared with the team’s overall decline the past four seasons.

The last time the Eagles beat a ranked team was Nov. 15, 2008, when a Jeff Jagodzinski-led team beat No. 20 Florida State in Tallahassee.

The Eagles have faced 11 ranked teams since Spaziani took over in 2009, and lost to each of them.

After falling to Notre Dame for the fourth straight season, the Eagles are a loss away from a bit of infamy.

The Eagles haven’t lost nine games since 1989. They haven’t lost 10 since 1978.

In Spaziani’s four seasons, the Eagles have won 21 games. There have been similarly difficult stretches in relatively recent history at the Heights, and they’ve all precipitated a coaching change.

Jack Bicknell won nine games over his final three seasons from 1988 to 1990 before being replaced by Tom Coughlin, who turned the Eagles into an eight-win team his second season on the job.

Dan Henning went 7-4-1 in 1994, his first season as Coughlin’s replacement. But Henning had nine wins in his next two seasons and was replaced by Tom O’Brien, who also turned the Eagles into an eight-win team two years later.

Ah, yes. Tom O’Brien.

NC State’s Tom O’Brien will forever be linked to Boston College and his former defensive co-ordinator (Spaziani). Unfortunately for O’Brien, his 1-4 record against is former employer during the aforementioned futile years may ultimately be one of his own undoings. Even with a win today, O’Brien will have compiled a losing record against the three weakest programs in the Atlantic Division – Boston College, Maryland and Wake Forest – over a six year window of opportunity.

Since we are tying O’Brien to Boston College today in what could poetically be both coaches last game, I thought this entry from BC blogger EagleinAtlanta would fitting to share.

Re-thinking Tom O’Brien and BC

This is probably Tom O’Brien’s last regular season game. The Wolfpack are bowl eligible but most expect NC State to fire TOB or come to some sort of retirement agreement. It’s somewhat poetic that his last game would be against BC. Six years ago I don’t think BC or TOB would have predicted this as the end.

When he left I think BC fans, players and administrators were tired of TOB and he was tired of us. Freed from BC’s limitations, TOB thought he would make NC State elite. We thought we would get a fun coach and a big winner. While both sides had their moments, neither is in a better place than they were six years ago. Time tends to change perspective on things.

I don’t regret letting TOB go, but I think I appreciate him more now. Perhaps I understand him a little better. His constant hunting for a new job and then biting comments on BC now have to be viewed with what he know about working for Gene. Gene’s criticism, the second-guessing and the independent relationships with players and staff probably drove TOB nuts. TOB spent his whole life in the military and football. He’s married to hierarchy and the chain of command. Coach Flip didn’t (when it came to football).

I don’t think TOB is the type to walk around with regrets, but I bet in a few years he will look back more fondly at his time at BC than his time in Raleigh. NC State was never a great fit for his stoic, introverted personality nor the type of player he wanted to recruit. I am sure he’s brought in some great kids but the quantity of great BC guys during his time wins out. I think his pitch worked better from a BC than an NC State. Just looked at his inability to recruit his alma mater St. Xavier of Cincinnati once he left the Heights. When he looks back, hopefully he will remember that BC gave him his first shot at being a head coach (even after Navy passed), he is the parent of three BC grads, and he is BC’s all time winningest coach.

I don’t want to rename the Stadium after him or rewrite history. TOB was a good but never great at BC and it was time for us to make a move. But once he is removed from NC State, I think it is important that BC rebuild its relationship with him. He deserves recognition for his accomplishments and could serve as a resource to future BC football coaches and ADs.

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42 Responses to How many coaching stints will end today in Raleigh?

  1. wolfwarrior 11/24/2012 at 9:39 AM #

    Seniors: There are 16 of them, four have already graduated, 10 will graduate
    in December and two more will graduate within the year

    Just curious, does anyone know how many times this (all seniors will graduate) has happened in NC State football History?

    Is it the “norm” or not?

  2. Wolfacct 11/24/2012 at 9:54 AM #

    My thinking is let him coach the bowl game, and then find out if he plans to make any asst. coaching changes. If not, show him the door, gracefully. If he agrees to bring in some younger, more exciting asst. coaches, then let him stay. With all the conference realignment issues, the timing may not be right for a head coaching change.

  3. StateFans 11/24/2012 at 10:09 AM #

    Just curious, but in year six of his tenure how relevant is new blood in the assistants if he is only going to coach a couple of more years anyway?

    I think this is the problem — he is going to retire in 1-3 years ANYWAY and the program’s talent base as already eroded. He should’ve made changes to the assistants a couple of years ago. He didn’t want to. For a guy whose tenure is limited anyway, what impact do new assistants have? and, what good assistants can he really attract if they know he is retiring in a few years anyway?

  4. Clarksa 11/24/2012 at 10:09 AM #

    I think that is the nicest I have ever seen a BC fan act towards TOB.

    I don’t think TOB deserves to get fired, but it would not bother me one bit if he decided to retire. With 8 home games for next year, we need some infusion of life into the program and maybe a new coach would provide that.

  5. projectwentynine 11/24/2012 at 10:11 AM #

    Can’t wait to watch our rivalry game against BC on ESPN3. Awesome.

  6. packalum44 11/24/2012 at 10:40 AM #

    If the decision were made in a vacuum, I’d be confident DY would let him go. This is a dynamic situation though.

    1- Several better job openings. Moreso than other years? IDK. Something to be considered.

    2- Money. We are a relatively poor school relative to other BCS schools. Maybe its better to wait another year? Maybe not, considering seats and merchandise purchases are trending down.

    3- ACC. WTF conference will we be in next year, much less 3 years from now? Can DY sell that fact that whatever happens, we’ll wind up in a Big 4?

    Wildcard: What if she thinks we will be in the SEC in 2014, just in time for their new TV contract? Wouldn’t she, and us fans, want her to wait another year so she can land a bigger name? Then again, another year of TOB is another year that I won’t be spending money on the program and the SEC is not even close to a guarantee.

  7. NCSU84 11/24/2012 at 10:43 AM #

    “Can’t wait to watch our rivalry game against BC on ESPN3. Awesome.”

    I am not sure whether I should laugh or cry.

  8. wolfpack4ever 11/24/2012 at 10:52 AM #

    “Can’t wait to watch our rivalry game against BC on ESPN3. Awesome.”

    The current swoffie led ACC is a joke. I cannot understand why the conference teams not wearing blue have not sent this POS packing.

    Rivalry week and we are playing Boston College. Eeeeeesh!

  9. wolfwarrior 11/24/2012 at 11:22 AM #

    Funny that not what I heard for the last 6 years against the holes, only the second coach in State History to go 5-1 against the holes.

  10. wufpup76 11/24/2012 at 12:03 PM #

    “Can’t wait to watch our rivalry game against BC on ESPN3. Awesome.


    Also can’t wait to open league play next season ON THE ROAD for the 100th consecutive season. I know TOB’s been a big fan of this scheduling practice.

  11. TeufelWolf 11/24/2012 at 1:19 PM #

    I have to say that I’m kind of shocked by the poll results.

  12. randygupton 11/24/2012 at 5:03 PM #

    CF looks half-empty. Regardless of the win/loss record, that may be what becomes the true death knell for TOB.

  13. Tau837 11/24/2012 at 5:46 PM #

    As of right now:

    1208 total votes
    608 votes to fire him regardless of bowl result
    144 votes to fire him if we lose our bowl game
    456 votes to keep him regardless of bowl result

    I agree this is a bit surprising.

    IMO he should be fired or should retire, regardless of bowl result. We are facing a rebuilding effort after this season, with a new QB, mostly new OL, and new secondary. Better to make the change now IMO.

    The only legitimate reason to wait IMO is if there is reason to believe we could wait another season, announce a move to the SEC, and thus hire a better coach while further reducing our payout for firing TOB. But I don’t see how we can know that for certain within the next several weeks, in which case there is no good reason to wait.

  14. JaxPackMan 11/24/2012 at 5:57 PM #

    Think about today’s ACC games on Rivalry Weekend — State and BC, UNC and Maryland, Wake and Vandy, Va Tech and UVA, Duke and Miami, Ga Tech and UGA, Fla State and UF, and Clemson and USC. Its as if Swofford was only concerned about the ACC/SEC match-ups and to heck with every body else.

  15. eas 11/24/2012 at 6:13 PM #

    456 votes to keep him no matter what is amazing. No quality assistant coaches are coming to a program with a coach who would be clearly on the hot seat. Then again TOB is not capable/able/willing to make the appropriate coaching changes anyway. I’m not bad mouthing him just stating the facts. He sticks to HIS game plan and coaching staff come hell or high water.

    We have a pretty weak team next year and our recruiting prospects remain in the same category. Oh well only DY knows what the future holds. Put me in the voting booth for a new direction.

  16. mak4dpak 11/24/2012 at 7:02 PM #

    ACC in where we are and where will stay, so for you SEC dreamers, it ain’t happening. Certainly more concerned about the coaching situation, than jumping to another conference. And DY has not let us down so far, and I trust she can land us another great coach. If anyone can get him, she can. She has hired 7 HCs now, let us make that 8. TOB is certainly a gentleman, but his enthusiasm and old school coaching continue to hold us back. Bowl win or not, change is needed. Look forward to next season, with a new, enthusiastic, and smart coach, with a great staff, to take us places.

  17. eas 11/24/2012 at 7:16 PM #

    ^ agree

  18. mak4dpak 11/24/2012 at 7:31 PM #

    As for a bowl game to end TOBs tenure at State, I am up for the Russell Athletic Bowl formerly the Champs Bowl in Orlando, Friday, December 28th, and some warmer weather. It sure was a cold one today. BRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

  19. redwolf87 11/24/2012 at 7:40 PM #

    Did you go to the last Champs Bowl we were at? It was colder than today…felt that way anyway.

  20. mak4dpak 11/24/2012 at 7:43 PM #

    I did go to that record setting cold weather day in Orlando, but that was certainly rare for that area. Surely wouldn’t happen again. Currently calling for weather in the 70s this week in Orlando. So I will remain hopeful.

  21. PackFamily 11/24/2012 at 8:05 PM #

    “ACC in where we are and where will stay, so for you SEC dreamers, it ain’t happening”

    Not saying this won’t turn this way, but what facts make you sure?

  22. 61Packer 11/24/2012 at 8:11 PM #

    It’s no surprise to me that TOB got a lot of votes to stay. He is a no-nonsense military guy who believes in discipline and I think most State fans embrace this kind of guy as their coach. TOB probably wouldn’t appease the fan bases of the snob schools in our league, two which are nearby, but we like him.

    State fans’ problem isn’t just with State being a 7-5 team that didn’t beat UNC this season. What a lot of fans, me included, are tired of is the same old unimaginative offense week after week, inconsistent defense, and inconsistent results on the scoreboard. Recruiting seems to be going downhill as is the league, yet we haven’t been able to elevate our program.

    I’m sure a lot of State fans like TOB, which is a different scenario than with Sendek, MOC and to some degree Chuck Amato. We all liked Sidney Lowe too, but he stayed 2 seasons too long because we let our loyalty to a good guy get in the way of our reasoning. TOB has been here long enough and in my opinion, since it’s obvious he won’t get rid of any staff members who simply aren’t cutting it, it’s time to move on. I think this decision would be the best one for our program.

    We’re at a critical time in my opinion. The ACC is in real danger of becoming another Big East, and under the brilliant guidance of John Swofford, we’re going to grab all the BE’s mediocre schools while at the same time driving off our best ones.

    A textbook example of where we’re headed right now can be found 90 miles east of here. ECU, which once had one of the most competitive football programs outside the BCS-level conferences, is mired for life in a mediocre conference. They had a really good coach a few years ago, but the current staff has done absolutely nothing to help the Pirates move up to a better league, and there is nothing to indicate things will change there.

    We’re going to be in that same boat if we continue to accept a bowl season as a successful one.

  23. eas 11/24/2012 at 8:17 PM #

    Very well put 61packer. Couldn’t agree more.

  24. ADVENTUROO 11/24/2012 at 8:18 PM #

    Stadium was probably 60 – 70%….and the 70% may be a real stretch. The colder it got, the fewer the fans.

    I kidded one member of our group who was on his smart phone and asked if he had just ordered a keg of nails for TOB’s coffin. Another member popped back that they did not want their money buying out coach and wanted all the money going to improving the program.

    This all transpired during the dismal first quarter. Reminded me a bit of the UNC-A game last night.

    We finally scored and then scored again thanks to Amerson’s interception. BC had it’s moments and the game never really seemed to be ours until about 8 minutes to go.

    Stayed to almost the very end….when we could just hold the ball. There was SOME enthusiasm in the crowd, but it was just barely above the WF level.

    TOB dodged a bullet today….so we changed the keg to a quarter keg. He is NOT off life support yet and the prognosis is not good.

    Dr. Yow now has a tougher problem…..but TOB also has some tough issues. The larger donors are not pleased with his performance or his attitude. Now that might sound, politically speaking, like they are Romney at a fundraiser where the 53% are in attendance.

    Lets NOT kid ourselves. I pay for 2 LTR FB and 4 LTR BB. My WPC dues are not that bad. Today, during the second half, the WPC presented Dr. Yow with a check for $9,060,000…..YEP – 9 Million. This is used exclusively for scholarships and support (managers) salaries. I do NOT even give enough to that kitty to express it in 4 place accuracy.

    SO, if the big donors are irritated about the record and the comments that he has made, then they may start by voting with their pocketbook.

    Remeber, and this is fact, not some Internet myth, that TOB’s buyout will be $600K for seasons 2013, 2014 and 2015 (his contract expires then). They are the ones paying the tow and if they are unhappy, then it would be left up to the rest of us to pony up the money to suport the scholarships.

    It would also only take about 2000 FB fans NOT ordering season tickets to break even on TOB’s $600K per year potential buyout.

    I do NOT think he will, be here in the spring…..given the frustrations of long tiime fans.

  25. eas 11/24/2012 at 8:50 PM #

    Thanks for giving some good insight Adventuroo. Truthfully in the current progression of our programs since DY has taken over I just don’t see him back in the spring. If the large donors are pulling out then the decision may be a little easier to make. Money makes money….

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