Friday, November 23, 2012

Rethinking 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.


I'm Keith said...

History will treat TOB very well, in terms of his career at BC. He was somewhat vilified at the end of his tenure in Chestnut Hill, and justly so. It was frustrating to be "almost" cracking the top-25 only to lose a WTF game ... and losses like the Syracuse game in 2004 really left a bad taste in our mouths.

ATL is right ... BC needs to repair this relationship, honor him a game, or something. He's light years better than what Spaz has brought to the table (as an HC) ... but he got a lot of things right when he was at the Heights.

Tim said...

Great post.

Henning12 said...


AA said...

Great post ATL, you redeemed yourself after yesterday's Blauds-like post.

Let's be honest, with our crap facilities, crap weather and crap recruiting footprint...7/8 wins is our ceiling.

William said...

Jags begs to differ with your statement

JBQ said...

TOB was obviously brought in because of his USMC discipline background. Henning dug a hole. The 2004 game with Syracuse is probably related to gambling issues. The idea was to stabilize BC and then move on. The idea was good. Jags was the result. This all went out the window with Jags wanting out and not recruiting. Spaz was the unfortunate result. The bottom line is that TOB did what was asked of him. Marines are the good guys no matter what our current culture has to say.

eagleboston said...

I totally agree. TOB always beat Notre Dame, coached several NFL players, always won his bowl games, and made BC respectable in college football. I deeply regret wanting him gone after the Miami game 6 years ago. We are definitely in a much worse situation since he left.

Hopefully, our new coach is like Iowa State's Paul Rhodes. Rather than take a knee before the half, even though he only had 1:40 left and was down 10 points, he had his freshman QB drive down the field for a TD. Late in the 3rd quarter, he had his punter run on 4th and 11. They still lost, but at least they went down fighting. Spazoo makes losing feel so much worse.

mod10aeagle said...

I confess to being one of those who was glad to see TOB's back heading out the door. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I see that TOB gave us the gift of greed -- feeling like we deserved/were entitled to more. I'd take that over Spaz's gifts of despair and despondency any day.

MilitantEagle said...

Somebody needs to post BCEagle74's record of performance. This guy beat up on the Rutgers, Temples and MACs of the world for eight years or so and then had Matt Ryan. He was nothing special and has proved it again at NCSU.

NEDofSavinHill said...

TOB was almost a carbon copy of Coughlin. He took a 4 win program and made them as good as any team in the country. It wasn't his fault that the ACC refs gave BC the shaft in the Wake and FSU games. How many other coaches in college football history won eight straight bowl games? How many have produced NFL QBs like Ryan, Hassleback and Russel Wilson? How many compiled a 23-4 non conference record? Beat ND six straight. An all time great coach. It would be great if BC could rehire him. TOB's critics are football illiterate.

John said...

Would TOB have chased Montel off?

Harris, who finished the season with 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 10 games (a hamstring injury limited his carries in the season opener and kept him out of the Maryland game), plans to train with Brown in Atlanta at Dual Sports Performance before April's NFL Draft.

Big Jack Krack said...

Beside the fact that Harris couldn't stand Spaziani - what else was he dismissed for? He didn't come to team meetings because he had made up his mind to leave Spazoo in the rear view mirror.

I think O'Brien would have found a way to work with this future NFL player. From everything I know about Harris, he's a nice guy.

What happened at BC is a mystery to me with a lot of innuendo. Once Spaziani is fired within the next couple of days, maybe we'll find out about Rogers and Harris et al.

Anonymous said...

TOB was a good but never great at BC.

As the bifurcation of college football continues, I suggest that TOB will remain the winningest football coach at BC for a long time.

And Matt Ryan was developed and recruited by TOB, not Jags. I genuinely hope Steve Donahue gets things turned around on the basketball team, but until he does it with his players, his first season is an anomaly, same as Jags.

Mosi said...

Like most of us, at the end we were tired of ToBY's act and he was tired of us. There comes a time when we all need a little or big change, and it was the right time for ToBY and BC
the biggest difference between ToB and Spaz is that he recruited acording to a plan, where if a kid shows th least bit of interest in BC, Spaz offers him and we're left with kids who honestly shouldn't be playing FBS ball, they try and play hard, but the skill set just isn't there. Look at ToB's classes, 3 or 4 pros in each, look at this years roster, I think Chase is the only guy who could have a sniff at the NFL

Today is not only the end, but its the True Beginning

knucklehead said...

AA. You suck. You sound like Spaz.

knucklehead said...

TOB is no Tom Coughlin.

Coughlin went from BC to being the General Manager and Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was one of the first if not THE first to hold both roles and with an expansion team. He took them to the AFC Championship game and then won 2 Supebowls against the Patriots.

My apologies to TOB but there is no way in hell that he accomplishes anything close to what Coughlin did.

Coughlin is a living legend who is only trumped as a coach by Bill Belkicheck and some would argue that given their record head to head.

knucklehead said...

TOB was a very good coach for Boston College because he could mold players who respected authority.

The people he is dealing with at NC State personell-wise just are not brought up the same way that the kids TOB had at BC were. The idea of extra effort, playing through adversity, being ready to play when a teammate gets knocked out of the game and playing for four quarters does not happen without the appropriate personel in place.

MilitantEagle said...

TOB is out at NSCU.

Tom O'Brien at NCSU in 6 seasons: 22-26 ACC record, 11-19 vs. Atlantic Division, 1-14 on road, 32-35 vs. FBS.

The guy is mediocre and hated BC. Don't know why people are defending him.

jag said...

I respect TOB for a lot of his ability to coach. Not a wondrous game manager or very creative but a solid head coach.

However, having met the man several times his "stoic" approach to people was counterproductive for the program if not for himself as well. The last time was in a situation where anyone could have been, at least, polite (not at a function but hanging around a golf club in a rain storm). Identifying myself as a former BC player he acted as if he couldn't get away from me faster and barely acknowledged my greeting.

A college head coach has to be respectful (at least) to most anyone (much less alumni). Anyone he meets could be connected to a player considering BC or an alumna in a position to contribute to BC.

TOB's attitude might work on the field but if I'd been asked about him from a recruit or his parents I would not have been able to endorse him. No college, much less a program on the margin such as BC, can afford to have anyone in their program approach their off field behavior with such disregard for the impression they leave with others.

Smart guy? Yeah. Jerk? Maybe not but my (admittedly few) instances meeting him left me with the distinct impression that he could not be bothered to even be polite. With that attitude a college coach had better be the second coming of Bear Bryant.