Rivals: If ND Fires Weis, Irish Might Make a Run At TOB (Updated 7pm)

Final Update: Irisheyes.com, the Scout Notre Dame football franchise, reports that Charlie Weis is set to return for 2009.

The discussion below is not for nothing, however, as the fact is that Tom O’Brien will become a person of interest for bigger programs looking to improve their coaching situation.  While O’Brien has said that NC State is his last coaching stop, common sense says that keeping the coach and his staff happy is the prudent thing to do.

Silly Season for college football is upon us, and coaches who have failed in their current positions might be finding pink slips under their Christmas trees.  Perhaps the highest profile potential opening so far this year might be Notre Dame, where Charlie Weiss has thus failed to live up to his NFL resume and great fanfare…and might be fired after a review of his program is completed this week.

Ordinarily, that’s of only passing interest to NC State fans, but the media is starting its routine of pulling random names from the hat:

Rivals.com: Coaching Carousel

“If Charlie Weis is forced out at Notre Dame, don’t be shocked to see the Irish make runs at Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly and N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien.”

O’Brien is still building NC State’s program in his image, and the late season surge by the Wolfpack has been noted by the media and undoubtedly by Athletic Directors like Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick.  For their part, the Irish have made no definitive statement that Weiss is out of a job:

Chicago Tribune: Weiss, Irish AD Set To Meet Next Week

“Nothing will happen until we complete the entire review process,” Swarbrick said late Saturday night outside the Irish locker room. “We do that as a regular course. It doesn’t assume something will happen.”

“Swarbrick and the university president, Rev. John Jenkins, watched firsthand the dismantling that occurred at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. If experience is instructive, prudence should drive their every twitch in this process.”

That process might include another run at Urban Meyer, the coach they thought that the Irish had on board when they dismissed Tyrone Willingham in 2004.  From the same Chicago Tribune article:

[…] a window that presumably opens after Saturday’s Southeastern Conference championship game and stays that way for 40 days — a week past the BCS title game on 1/8 –  should Florida beat Alabama to win the SEC title.

Considering that Urban Meyer already said NO to Notre Dame once, it’s hard to imagine him leaving the gentle climate, rabid fanbase and deep pockets of The Swamp for the raw autumn afternoons on Notre Dame; but some people still consider Notre Dame college football royalty despite the fact that they have not won a bowl game since 1994.

When looking to deep pockets in college sports, one need  look no further than the Irish — they’re the only FBS team with its own national television deal, and the only team that has special standing in the BCS.  And, they will need those deep pockets to buy out Weiss whose contract still has seven years.  Since a potential move to Notre Dame doesn’t seem likely to n’t seem likely, the Irish would turn their sites to names like  Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly and State’s Tom O’Brien.

While we are pondering a potential Irish list, let’s not forget how wonderful of a job that Butch Davis has done turning around a floundering program in Chapel Hill.  (smiles).  Davis’ NFL experience and proven ability to recruit nationally would be a super fit for the Irish. (Don’t you think?)

Lee Fowler would be wise to read this quote that we intentionally put on the site last week.  We would hope that Fowler could find time away from his Lake house or his favorite restaurant in Cary (does his wife EVER cook?) and spend some time with Tom O’Brien negotiating a definitive contract extension with a satisfying raise.  Doing so would remove O’Brien from anyone’s wish list, real or imagined, and would be a statement of continuity in an obviously upwardly mobile football program.  That would provide solid answers to any questions opposition coaches might raise on the recruiting trail, and you can bet that they will do exactly that given half the opportunity.

State’s history of losing great coaches is mixed.  After losing Lou Holtz and Bo Rein inthe 1970s, Dick Sheridan expressed his loyalty to NC State – and consistently stated his love for Athletics Director, Jim Valvano – by turning down opportunities at Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, Arizona and LSU in the late 1980s.  If Jim Oblinger and Lee Fowler ever want the Wolfpack program to seriously contend for the Championships that Coach O’Brien again referenced in his post-game comments after Saturday’s win, then they need to take care of business and tangibly let our staff know our level of appreciation for what they are building.

NCS Football Tom O'Brien

58 Responses to Rivals: If ND Fires Weis, Irish Might Make a Run At TOB (Updated 7pm)

  1. bradleyb123 12/02/2008 at 9:40 AM #

    If Lee Fowlup does not come through with a much-deserved raise for TOB, and he leaves for Notre Dame as a result, I will no longer purchase tickets to NC State athletic events.

    I am at the end of my rope with this administration. The last hope to keep me (and my money) in the fold, is to keep TOB happy and keep him in Raleigh.

    I bought lifetime rights seats and have roughly 16 years left. I will either sell them, or break the contract and let them sue me or whatever. But whatever happens, if we don’t at least try our BEST to keep TOB, I will go. And I will do what I can to campaign against NC State athletics.

    The administration only cares about our dollars. As long as they keep our butts in the stands, they don’t care what happens on the field of play. The only way to send a message to them is with our wallets.

    Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But if it does, I hope the Wolfpack nation will join me in this and stop paying for less than mediocrity from the NCSU administration.

    I see this as their last chance to show me they are trying their best to put a good product on the field and that they aren’t just after our money.

  2. RBCRowdy 12/02/2008 at 9:44 AM #

    Karma is gonna make us sweat for all of Butch Davis jokes we’ve been making for a while. That being said, the strong NCSU fanbase would disintegrate immediately if Lee Fowler Fowler’ed this up.

  3. EverettBeez 12/02/2008 at 9:48 AM #

    ND certainly was part of football royalty, but the past few years have been very unkind. It seems with each passing year they become less relevant and the demand for an end to their preferential treatment in the BCS grows. Thus, the pressure on whoever is their coach grows. In addition to their on field struggles of what seems like a decade or more, the fact that with scholarship changes no team will ever be as dominate as the great teams of the past. Not every faded great will be as lucky as Alabama and rebound so quickly. Its a tough row to hoe in South Bend.

    Please remind me who Coach Rein went to from the Pack.

  4. Alpha Wolf 12/02/2008 at 9:52 AM #

    LSU, Everett, but he died in a plane crash before ever coaching a game in Baton Rouge.

  5. LRM 12/02/2008 at 9:59 AM #

    Here we go again with the typical State fan over-reaction to the media trying to make news.

    SFN: How is simply identifying and discussing a legitimate topic of fan interest an ‘over-reaction’? (LRM: I’m not saying it isn’t legit, I’m saying we’re conditioned to seeing worst-case scenarios…and I’m including myself here when I say this As of right now, it’s a non-issue, because Weiss is still at ND).

    This is nature of college football as it exists today — successful coaches without established ties to a program are going to be mentioned anytime a prestigious opening becomes available. If TOB is going to leave to pursue more money and prestige, then nothing Lee Fowler can do will stop it,

    SFN: That is not true at all. Hell, Willis Casey found a way to stop Jim Valvano from doing just that when V was courted by Kentucky, UCLA and the NY Knicks. Ron Wellman found a way to keep Jim Grobe in Winston-Salem under these very conditions. (LRM: You’re confident Lee Fowler is capable of this?)

    because it’s very simple: State can’t compete with Notre Dame for either of those.

    SFN: Of course that is true.

    The irony: remember back when we were all fretting that Chuck would abandon us to replace Bowden at FSU?

    TOB has never given any indication in his coaching career that he’s an opportunist, so I’d say relax.

  6. cowdog 12/02/2008 at 10:02 AM #

    Man, I could just shoot myself for the post referencing ND under


    A Pack buddy and I were talkin’ things Weiss on Friday and possible replacement candidates. I mentioned Cinn’s Kelly, but TOB never came up in our conversation.

    Unfortunately, given BC’s historical thorn in side of the Irish, O’Brien would be a very logical choice. That and his experience with academic standards and proven ability to build a program…should give us the willies.

    Damn,as if we haven’t done enough hand wringing lately.

  7. Dr. BadgerPack 12/02/2008 at 10:04 AM #

    TOB getting a raise is a virtual non-issue in all of this (and, like LRM I think this is making a mountain out of a media molehill).

    That said, if TOB leaves, it won’t be to boost his profile, image, salary or anything of that nature in my opinion. It would strictly be to benefit his coaching staff. Which means, the critical issue would not be the salary of TOB, but of his collecitve staff– that is where the overture should be made.

    One thing that has never been questioned is the character of Tom O’Brien. If he can get a much better package for a staff that, for the most part, has been with him for a very long time in football terms, then he would probably do that; much to his detriment as ND is a cluster-you-know-what at the moment. Take care of TOBs staff, and he is probably a happy man, and will be very happy ending his coaching career with the red and white– which was what was stated would happen upon his hiring.

    Take. Care. Of. The. Staff.

  8. old13 12/02/2008 at 10:05 AM #

    I tend to agree, LRM, but I think that TOB & Co. deserve raises and extensions.

  9. EverettBeez 12/02/2008 at 10:06 AM #

    LRM is correct, we shouldn’t fret over this. We (the school) give TOB a raise. What he’s done that last two years is impressive IMO and I for one think he’s earned it. We need to recognize, in a mired of ways, the progress and accomplishments of this STAFF.

    Thanks Alpha – I remember attending the then Tangerine Bowl with Coach Rein, his departure and then that really tragic plane crash. They never did find the wreckage did they? He had kids, they’d be all grown now. Tragic. Was that 1979? I don’t have my Wolfpack book here in the office so I can’t look it up.

  10. bradleyb123 12/02/2008 at 10:11 AM #

    Whatever it takes to keep TOB here, we must do. Or at least *try* to do. I can’t imagine him leaving so soon after he arrived here. I do think this is a case of pure speculation on the part of the media, at this point. But it is something to consider, and TOB deserves a raise and a contract extension anyway. And like BadgerPack said, so does his staff.

    My point was that we better see a concerted effort to keep Tom in Raleigh. If we don’t, I won’t spend another dollar on the Wolfpack. I’m tired of watching an administration that only seems to care about the almighty dollar. And we keep giving them our dollars for little return on investment.

    If they blow THIS one, it’s time for the fans to vote with their wallets.

    The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if some UNC journalism school graduates started this rumor to do their part to hurt our recruiting for just a moment.

  11. PackerInRussia 12/02/2008 at 10:11 AM #

    If TOB left, I would go into deep depression. Not only would it be bad because we lost an excellent coach, but can you imagine the few remaining Hole football fans who would snicker at us after all the talk about Butch leaving them? I don’t think it will happen, but I shudder at the thought.

  12. gopack968 12/02/2008 at 10:20 AM #

    Calm down everyone… South Bend is a long way from TOB’s vacation home in Charleston. I also don’t see this fine coach bailing out on the commitment he has made to his recruits, players, administration and fanbase. TOB takes little words like honor and commitment very seriously. He left BC only after he had built a winning program and felt there was nothing left to achieve in Beantown – and because Raleigh was much closer to Charleston (never underestimate the power of the spouse in these decisions).

    Now, having said that, the NC State powers-to-be darned well need to reward him with whatever extension and money is appropriate, and fast.

  13. Sam92 12/02/2008 at 10:36 AM #

    a short time ago there was an entry on this site about things we would change about TOB – the first item is that we would make him 10 years younger.

    right now, his age is the best thing about him – at 50 he’d be far more likely to bolt for a place like ND and rebuild. at 60, with two years under his belt at NCSU, he’s more likely to stick it out with us.

    also, of course, charlie weis hasn’t been fired yet – IMO ND would be pulling the trigger too early if they fired him after this season

  14. JimValvano 12/02/2008 at 10:38 AM #

    Off topic but…Mario Williams had a three sack game on Monday Night Football last night while Vince Young doesn’t know if he even wants to play football anymore and Reggie Bush looks like a guy that probably shouldn’t play football anymore. I wonder what all the people that second guessed Houston’s pick a few years ago think about the taste of crow.


  15. bradleyb123 12/02/2008 at 10:39 AM #

    There would be a big difference between leaving BC the way he did and leaving NCSU. At BC, he had accomplished a lot and built that program up, arguably about as high as they were going to be. It was possibly time for a new challenge for TOB, and he saw a lot of potential to build something big here in Raleigh. Hard to imagine him leaving now after just getting started.

    I just hope the rumors get squashed before they affect recruiting. That’s why Fowlup needs to act and act quickly. At Carolina, they moved quickly to give Butch a fat raise last year. It was not because he deserved one after just four wins. It was to keep him happy so he wouldn’t entertain other offers. They nipped it in the bud. That’s what we need to do. I don’t see O’Brien leaving, but we need to nip this in the bud, give him whatever he wants to stay happy, and do it before other coaches can put fear in the minds of our recruits. We need to be able to tell them definitively that TOB isn’t going anywhere any time soon!

  16. Alpha Wolf 12/02/2008 at 10:46 AM #

    Recruiting is what worries me. Given his personality, TOB won’t jump ship for any small reason. But I *can* see fine folks like John Blake chewing on the ears of our recruits with words like “how sure are you he’ll be there in four years?”

    SFN: Alpha, I take the complete opposite perspective. If TOB were to become a candidate for ND and turn down the job then it actually becomes a recruiting boon for us. This opportunity is ‘different’. Being a candidate here does NOT mean that he becomes a perpetual candidate for future jobs. In fact, if he turns down this opportunity then it solidifies the very opposite — he truly is NEVER leaving (just as he has said since the day he took the job)

  17. old13 12/02/2008 at 10:47 AM #

    If keeping TOB, or doing anything to promote/improve Wolfpack athletics depends on Good-Ol’blinger/Foulup, all is lost!

  18. LRM 12/02/2008 at 10:53 AM #

    Another issue is that Notre Dame requires immediate gratification, which TOB likely would not provide. His systemic approach would take a few years to correct what ails Notre Dame, and as we’ve clearly seen, time isn’t a luxury in South Bend.

    Almost all of Notre Dame’s problems start with the lines, where they failed to control the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball: they were 115th in rushing offense & 96th in rushing defense, 96th in sacks, and were 119th (last) in both sacks allowed and total offense, 106th in time of possession, all of which resulted in only 22 points per game; they were a dreadful 31% (111th) on third down conversions and made only six FGs all season, which forced far too many punts and 4th-down conversions, and resulted in losses to both Pitt and Syracuse.

    Whoever goes to South Bend has their work cut out for them, and they’re going to need time to do it.

  19. buttPACKer 12/02/2008 at 11:01 AM #

    if such a thing were to come to pass, I swear on all that is Holy, that I will NEVER give another dime to my beloved alma mater, NC State!!!!

    LEE, Don’t force my hand. . .

  20. SuperStuff 12/02/2008 at 11:02 AM #

    I can’t see TOB leaving for ND. If TOB gets all this press and stays we will reap the benefits in recruiting like Butch is doing at UNC-CH this year. At this point it’s only speculation since Weiss still has a job.

  21. BJD95 12/02/2008 at 11:04 AM #

    This would be the last straw for me as well. I’d consider leaving the Wolfpack Club and just forfeiting my LTRs (and becoming a “TV only” fan. Like somebody said upthread – let ’em try to sue me.

    There is no way TOB leaves for anywhere if we are treating him right. I believe that 100%.

  22. cowdog 12/02/2008 at 11:05 AM #

    ‘Beez, it was ’79 and his brother, a former player resides nearby.

    Let’s just say ND does pull the trigger on Weiss. Is it not appropriate for fretters to at least provoke thought into how it might affect our program?

    Put yourself in ND’s hierarchy for a moment. If they can Weiss, they would have considered hiring an unproven COLLEGE coach experiment a failure.( should have learned that one with Faust, although high school and NFL are not exactly apples to apples.)
    So it’s back to the original script, right?

    1) Person of integrety
    2) Can deal with high academic standards
    3) Proven ability to build programs
    4) Coached former program that has tendecy to kick our ass

    No question they come’a callin’. We don’t know TOB, we can speculate and read into what his thought process is, but even imagining him staying should an offer present itself just because of his character is not sound. State damn sure better prepare for this scenario should Charlie find himself looking for a job in the NFL next yr.

    We “The sky is falling” folks are probably a bit more mature in thought process than sometimes given credit for. It is relevant to discuss this matter because there is a very good chance that CW will be bought out.

  23. Noah 12/02/2008 at 11:06 AM #

    Tom O’Brien has said that this is his last job. He’ll retire from NC State.

    Furthermore, explain to me why a coach who has won 11 games in two years deserves a raise?

  24. Alpha Wolf 12/02/2008 at 11:11 AM #

    There is another side of the coin to consider — an upside that is — if indeed Weis is terminated, and if ND comes after O’Brien, but TOB stands up and says “no thanks, we’re building a great program here at North Carolina State” then that says a great deal for us *here.*

  25. old13 12/02/2008 at 11:11 AM #

    Sometimes, Noah, it’s wise to bet on the come. As far as I’m concerned, the single difference this year between 1-11 and 6-6 is the coaching – both technically and the leadership for building character into the team – something the previous regime couldn’t muster.

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