Perhaps the one thing that really divided Wolfpack fans about Chuck Amato was his relationship with the media. Chuck was often brash, arrogant, and rude. Many Wolfpackers saw this as a source of great pride – taking justified potshots at a hostile, pro-UNC media. Others saw this as foolish, silly, and ultimately harmful behavior (whether or not the media was fair to begin with). As you probably know, I was and am solidly in the second camp.
If Caulton Tudor’s Saturday article is any indication, Coach O’Brien is striking the right chords so far:
It wasn’t long before the question-and-answer session turned into a discussion about what the coach did on his summer vacation. In a word, it was moving.
Along with seven of his classmates from their days at the Naval Academy, O’Brien took a week off in May to attend a guys-only golf trip in Portugal. It was the group’s third such outing, following trips to Ireland in 2003 and 2005. But the vacation wasn’t so much about playing golf as male bonding in the memory of another Midshipman — Charles “Chic” Burlingame III.
Burlingame, then 51, was a pilot on the Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 that slammed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. after being hijacked.
O’Brien, who was 52 at the time of the terrorist attacks, said he didn’t really know Burlingame. But the nature of the Naval Academy is such that all Middies are linked one to another. At a reunion the following weekend, O’Brien and some of his friends decided that life is too short for good friends to become disconnected by professional obligations, be they Xs and Os or corporate board meetings. They vowed to get together for something special every other year thereafter.
You can just feel the respect dripping from Tudor’s pen – and it’s not the kind of respect that is easily lost. On a similar note, I have at least anecdotal evidence that Coach O’Brien is having a similar impact on high school coaches. Through work, my father knows one of the high school coaches in Summerville, SC. The coach talked about meeting TOB, and it was “night and day” different from Amato. O’Brien talked almost exclusively about academics and honor – a good strategy since his record of winning speaks for itself. Again, Coach O’Brien is earning respect that is built on a very solid foundation. Expect it to pay off in spades.