Now 3-3 vs Wake, Saturday’s win not necessarily a plus in O’Brien’s column

On a gorgeous day this past Saturday in Carter-Finley Stadium, Coach Tom O’Brien’s NC State Wolfpack turned in one of the more complete performances of his six year coaching tenure in Raleigh. Both the offense and the defense exerted the kind of control over Wake Forest that, frankly, NC State teams SHOULD consistently exert over a Demon Deacon program that enjoys just a fraction of the resources as the Wolfpack.

State’s offense amassed 26 first downs and 428 yards of total offense – that doesn’t include 200 return yards – while the Wolfpack’s defense held Wake to just 9 first downs and 185 total yards from scrimmage.

With the win, Coach O’Brien improved his record to 3-3 against Wake Forest.

Take a moment.

Read that again.

With the win, Coach O’Brien improved his record to 3-3 against Wake Forest.

After six years of enjoying tremendous recruiting advantages over the likes of Wake Forest (and Boston College and Maryland and Duke), Coach O’Brien does not currently hold a winning record against a single one of those programs!

The inconsistency that has created a 3-3 record against the Weak Florist is not lost on observers. On Sunday, ACC-area sports radio host, Taylor Zarzour tweeted the following thought to his followers:

TOB’s program shouldn’t be this inconsistent in year 6. Yesterday’s performance makes UVA game that much more inexcusable

It is hard to argue with Zarzour. Let’s take a different look at this inconsistency through the lens of just Wake Forest —

On Saturday, State could’ve scored more points, but ultimately delivered a 37-6 margin of victory that was striking similar to the Wolfpack’s 38-3 dominance in Raleigh in 2010. But, sandwiched between State’s clear superiority and combined 75-9 margin of victory over the Deacons came a 34-27 LOSS in Winston-Salem in 2011.

Seriously? How in the world can NC State’s roster be so experienced, consistently comprised, and generally talented over the last three years, yet fail to be able to take care of business in a more consistent manner? If we are having a coaching debate at the end of the 2012 season, it will be the inconsistency exhibited by Coach O’Brien’s performance vs the Wake Forest-Boston College-Maryland tier of the Atlantic Division that may tilt the scales.

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28 Responses to Now 3-3 vs Wake, Saturday’s win not necessarily a plus in O’Brien’s column

  1. Hungwolf 11/12/2012 at 11:37 AM #

    Congrats to TOB and the staff on the win. I for one, along with many other wolfpackers I know, are happy with the direction of the program. We are going bowling and that is getting to be a habit in our program, which is a well needed first step. We have no NCAA issues in our program and the rebuilding of trust in our instate recruiting seems to be progressing nicely. We will finish with a winning record, a bowl trip, and a good outlook with the returning talent for next year.

  2. pakfanistan 11/12/2012 at 11:51 AM #

    I think our fans need to let go of unrealistic expectations. We’re .500 against a program that wins conference championships….

  3. wufpup76 11/12/2012 at 11:57 AM #

    ^I’d like to agree w/ Hung because the intangibles that O’Brien and his staff bring to the program are nothing short of fantastic.

    But the inconsistency is maddening … It’s one thing to get what you expect and be satisfied, it’s another to be all over the map with your results. People can only take that for so long. And I”m not even touching the subject of recruiting …

    I think most people would even be fine with one WTF loss every season as long as your consistently hitting the 8, 9, or 10 victory mark EACH year. 7 victories doesn’t really cut it when you’re playing two FCS opponents each season and your respective league is consistently terrible. But when have WTF losses followed by WTF wins and inconsistency on every level in between … well, that’s not going to last.

    Anyway, we are quite accustomed to WTF losses as State fans – so that’s not even the primary issue. The article nails it in my opinion … consistency is key. A champion is not consistently inconsistent.

  4. wolfwarrior 11/12/2012 at 12:06 PM #

    Terrell Manning’s early departure was a big deal to this team as far as leadership and performance. I for one don’t really like the offensive play calling, it is definitely inconsistent and has been that way but Russell Wilson came along. The oline is the most glaring weakness for TOB, hence no consistent ground game. NC recruits don’t seemed to be knocking the door down to come to State. TOB and most of his staff would not know a pot of collards from a mess of turnip salad, I don’t think they know all 100 counties of NC and their respective football programs very well.

  5. old13 11/12/2012 at 12:11 PM #

    Hungwolf, I’ll respond as I did to a comment in the previous article:

    COMMENT: “I like TOB’s discipline towards players but at some point its about winning which is the face of this great university.”

    MY RESPONSE: That’s my conflict as well. However, TOB isn’t the only coach who can run a clean program with players involved in community service and paying attention to their classroom work. At some point, wins do have to matter for an athletics program. And DY has stated goals which are not being met in football at all during the TOB years. But it is still a tough decision for her. I would think the deciding factor (if the financial aspects are as speculated in posts above) would be if DY thinks TOB has reached his ceiling or not. Guess we’ll see.

    * * * * * * * *
    pakfanistan, WF has won ONE ACC championship in recent history (2005), and only one before that (1970) as compared to SEVEN for NCSU. It has been shown in the past that, with the right coach, NCSU is much more capable than a .500 record against the likes of a WF (see Edwards, Holtz, Sheridan, etc. In fact, over the life of the series, the Pack has TWICE the wins of WF.) IMO TOB has reached his ceiling. See my comment above. Top 25 rankings and ACC championships are far from impossible goals for NCSU football. Expecting NCs at this point is IMO the departure to unrealistic expectations. And that does not mean it couldn’t happen one day either. But it is beyond reasonable expectations now.

  6. Pack Leader 11/12/2012 at 12:48 PM #

    “Terrell Manning’s early departure was a big deal to this team as far as leadership and performance.”


  7. WolftownVA81 11/12/2012 at 1:17 PM #

    This debate will rage through the end of the season. I hope we as a University can come to a consensus as to what is best for the long term. My ideal solution would be for TOB to offer his resignation before our XXXX Bowl (fill in lower tier bowl) is announced in an effort to leave on a positive note. That way, we could move forward and he could be recognized for all he has accomplished during his 6 years.

  8. sholtzma 11/12/2012 at 1:49 PM #

    As I have argued before (but will not again), the Miami loss was not even a WTF loss. It was ignominious, a “Pee-Wee”-football-like loss. A loss the likes of which I have never seen a major Division 1 football team have. The UVA game was a WTF loss. The Miami loss was beyond inexcusable; it was unfathomable. And ultimately, that’s on the coaching staff. So, it is not merely about the infrequent WTF loss…..

  9. TeufelWolf 11/12/2012 at 1:50 PM #

    Saying things like, “at least we have no NCAA issues in our program” reminds me of that old Chris Rock bit. How does it go?… There are plenty of coaches that have solid programs with no NCAA issues. We need to stop bragging about things we’re supposed to do.

    Al Davis said it best…

  10. sjmac11 11/12/2012 at 1:51 PM #

    7-5 and going bowling!!!! wow, how bout a conference championship, hell just a trip to the game??!!! gopack club is second only to Iptay in the ACC, our world class facilities and a fan base that still packs the stadium after two (three) horrible losses…..forgive me if I expect a little more than some bullsh*t bowl game. sit around and be a puss, you are part of the problem. The offensive play calling is horrible at best, Bible ruined, yes ruined Russell’s game and now the QB they put all their stock into is looking…..well never mind

  11. coach13 11/12/2012 at 2:33 PM #

    We will likely end up 7-5.

    Now the burning question, who actually thinks our team will be better next year? If you think so please let me know why, otherwise we are fixing to experience some crappy football starting with next season.

  12. Sw0rdf1sh 11/12/2012 at 2:35 PM #

    I’ll take 8-4 and a big cup of what could have been.

    Anything else will be fairly bland for a team that lost games it should have never.

    If we beat Clempson in the Valley o’ Death and for once beat a shitty BC team I will pony up to see what WTF we take on next year.

  13. tjfoose1 11/12/2012 at 2:45 PM #

    “Terrell Manning’s early departure was a big deal to this team as far as leadership and performance.”

    How about…

    “The inability of a Wolfpack program to develop even the bare minimum in player leadership was a big deal to the team’s performance.”

    As to where that blame lies, you decide.

  14. Virginia Wolf 11/12/2012 at 3:03 PM #

    I guess I’m not being very optomistic but I think we’ll finish this season 6-6 and probably next season 6-6! I’m not satisfied with that at all!

  15. Daily Update 11/12/2012 at 3:28 PM #

    The talent that won Jim Grobe an ACC title is gone. Whether it is TOB or some other coach, our winning percentage against WF will improve from this point forward.

    That was a really, really bad WF team. Their talent level isn’t close to what it was 4-5 years ago. And it won’t get better any time soon.

    People had it all wrong about Jim Grobe. It wasn’t his coaching that won him a title.

    Jim Grobe’s recruiting won him that title, but unfortunately it is impossible to replicate that type of recruiting success at a place like WF in the long run.

  16. ADVENTUROO 11/12/2012 at 4:06 PM #

    I hate to be a Debbie Yow Kool Aid drinker, but she, as well as others, have stated that we should be a top 25 team.

    Without knowing WHAT talent we have coming in, but reading all the negative or perhaps NOT reading how well our recruiting has been, 2013 is not going to be Break Out (as in Coah G) season.

    Look at the raw data. BTW, the Wiki Summary of NCSU Football is pretty concise.

    Sheridan 51 – 29 – 3 or 63%; Bowls 2 – 4; Never Ranked
    O’Cain- 41 – 40 or 51%; Bowls 1 -2; Ranked ONCE 17/17
    Amato 49 – 37 or 57%; Bowls 4 – 1; Ranked ONCE 12/11
    O’Brien 38 – 35 or 52%; Bowls- 2 – 1; Ranked ONCE 25/25

    So, if you are the AD and you have told your coaches that you expect a Top 25 Team from them, what would YOU do? Assume that you DO have the resources for a buyout this year (see my post in the previous article) of $1.8 Million (that is it….that is ALL).

    What would your do? I for one, would have a small select group (Cowher, Evans, Christy,TBD?) give me a report on our prospects NEXT year or maybe a comparison (Plus or Minus) to this year. If that report is as dismal as I THINK it will be and the fan base “has left the Stadium – Circa 11/3/12”, then that might NOT be as tough a decision as I think it would be.

    I do NOT know how the coaching carousel is going to spin this year. I also don’t know how you “get a committment” for a top quality coach, but it might be something that is going on in certain peoples minds.

    I would also factor in the WPC fan base and the big donors….if they are pulling up their stakes, then the big top might just come tumbling down.

    SO….I do NOT know what will happen. I want the PACK to win…but I am less than enthusiastic about the future.

  17. Pack1998 11/12/2012 at 4:38 PM #

    Agree with inconsistency being an issue with TOB.

    3-3 versus WF is not the anchor variable to look at, as WF was the conference champ in 2006 and enjoyed some good talent the next 2 years. We haven’t won a conference championship since 1979.

    Adventuroo – I think the wiki data is in correct, Sheridan had us ranked a few times at the end of the year. But I agree with ya.

    All I can say, is that TOB should have more consistency. The pieces are there, this should have been a good year.

    I still hold, unless you have a stud lined up as the next coach, you can’t get rid of TOB with a 7-5 record (and 5-1 vs. UNC) and with a good basketball team in place.

  18. LRM 11/12/2012 at 5:49 PM #

    Think about this: the ACC is so bad this year, and will have so few bowl-eligible teams, that if we lose to Clemson and then beat BC, then we’re the most attractive option for the Peach Bowl.

    Not saying I agree, but we’ll look insane firing a guy who led us to the Peach Bowl. Our best out is for him to retire.

  19. ADVENTUROO 11/12/2012 at 5:51 PM #


    Wiki may be wrong….don’t know.

    I am viewing it from WHAT I think is Debbie Yow’s perspective….not that I am an Ex AD or even stayed lately at a Holiday Inn Express.

    Just looking at the facts as I did while in business….

    First, Debbie has drawn her line in the sand. She said she wanted Top 25. TOB has NOT made that but once and not likely to again. Thus, her expectations start to kick in and she can not keep control of the program if she grants exceptions….we KNOW from her background that she does NOT back off.

    Second….she needs to deal with FB this year….as it is very precarious. The WPC big donors are a major factor. They might not do a Mass Exodus Routine, but there has been VERY little construction or improvements. The PL are in sad shape. The motorhome lot is overflowing and is still in high demand. There are a LOT of rough edges showing in the stadium and renovations need to be made. She has to depend on the WPC for such and new facilities. Therefore, she has to know that there are issues which MIGHT impact the entire program.

    She has the funds NOW….will it be worth saving $600K for another mediorce year? Will the MAIN fan base get really hostile and will the STATE spirit that she has brought back get derailed. She does NOT want to lose the momentum.

    NOW, a LOT is riding on the team’s next two games. They will have to run the table to get folks excited and to get the nay sayers pushed into the background.

    NOW, having said that, I am NOT advocating getting rid of TOB. All I am trying to do is to point out the facts.

    I can NOT come up with many “pluses” or PRO’s to put on my list. BUT, I certainly am NOT close to the nuts and bolts of the program. My small sampling may be totally unreliable….even Karl and Dick make mistakes….ask Mitt.

    But, I think if I were giving odds, that a NEW coach is about 60/40 at this time. It was higher before WF and it will go lower if the team surprises the pundits and the bookies this weekend….and THEN they MUST really stomp on BC to make a case for high quality team in the Peach Bowl….

    So, do NOT put me in the GOTTA GO CROWD’s side….nor the Gotta Stay….I am part of the Wait and See…

  20. eas 11/12/2012 at 7:22 PM #

    Great points and certainly agree. The only thing that we still don’t have an answer for after year 5+ is why our season starts and finishes the same. We are consistently the start like crap & finish like a champ FB team. So why do we normally only do the following:

    1. First 1/2 of the season look awful and the last
    1/2 look like a pretty good team.
    2. Only tend to play the last 2 quarters of every
    3. 1/2 of our losses are often WTF games
    4. Some of the worst clock management of any
    Any staff in history.

    Sounds too me we are a team of 1/2’s or maybe I should say one that only plays 1/2 the time. This has/is my issue with TOB teams. They are consistently what I listed above without much change. Lets also not forget the refusal to change anything up within the coaching staff.

    Good luck with your decision Debbie….

  21. eas 11/12/2012 at 7:24 PM #

    Sorry for the crazy typing style above. Thanks iPhone.

  22. Texpack 11/12/2012 at 7:31 PM #

    Running a clean program is like showing up on time, it’s the bare minimum.

    Going to a bowl game means nothing when every 6-6 team in the country goes to a bowl.

    If losing one player cripples the team from a leadership standpoint, then the staff has done a poor job of succession planning if you will.

    This is year six. We might catch lightning in a bottle and win 9 games in the regular season under TOB, but 6-8 wins is what you’ll get with him. He’s not going to be around long enough to take the next step and he can’t recruit. Time to move on.

  23. logarithm 11/12/2012 at 7:34 PM #

    I won’t criticize the team for a good performance just because it reminds me of the bad performances. Is it legitimate to look at the record from a higher vantage point and agree that even records are unacceptable? Yes. Is a quality win ever not a plus? No.

    It’s like Carolina fans criticizing Bryn Renner or Gio Bernard for beating us now just because on the whole their record has been abysmal against us until now. That’s just silly.

  24. Primewolf 11/12/2012 at 9:08 PM #

    Timing is everything.

    TOB has reached his limit. He has not upgraded his staff. They can’t/don’t recruit well. The offense playcalling does not lend itself to consistent performance.

    I expect a 1-1 finish to get to 7-5. I expect a low bowl turnout by Wolfpackers. How can you get up for the same ol sh*$.

    Who wants to see this mess next year or the year after.

    In a perverse, way an 0-2 finish would get the job done. Reminds me when I sat in the ECU stadium in 1969 and saw Mike O’Cains last team play an awful, inept game against ECU. Several of us were saying we would take the loss if it got us a new coach. It did.

    If TOB somehow goes 2-0 and wins a crappy bowl game, it will likely get him another year. Oh well, that will be exciting.

    TOB’s losses and missed opportunities have been significant. He has convinced me that we have seen the future when it comes to his potential. Heck, his recruiting has gotten worse since year 2.

  25. coach13 11/13/2012 at 8:53 AM #

    He can’t recruit well enough to contend for an ACC championship.

    He can’t recruit well enough to compete for an ACC championship.

    He can’t recruit well enough to compete for an ACC championship…

    My point, when it is all said and done, is he does not meet Debbie’s criteria. She may wait another year, or whatever, but he does not meet it. May take a step back on the next hire. Who knows?

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