Sources: Wolfpack hire O'Brien over Johnson

Updated: December 8, 2006, 12:44 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Boston College's Tom O'Brien has been hired as North Carolina State's new football coach, multiple sources close to the situation said Wednesday night.

The Wolfpack chose O'Brien over Navy coach Paul Johnson, who was contacted about the job earlier this week.

O'Brien, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, led the Eagles to a 9-3 record this season. He had a 75-45 record in 10 seasons with the Eagles. Boston College plays Navy in the Dec. 30 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

NC State's board of governors has scheduled a Friday meeting to approve O'Brien's contract. Terms of the deal weren't immediately known.

A source close to the situation said Wednesday night that O'Brien, who had issued a statement days earlier saying "I'm not a candidate for any job," had been offered the job and that Boston College officials were preparing to conduct a national coaching search. The source said the Eagles would not hire a member of O'Brien's coaching staff as his replacement.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been approved by the school's board of trustees, an official told The Associated Press that NC State likely would not make a formal announcement Thursday. The board's personnel committee has a teleconference scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday.

O'Brien, who was named Boston College's coach before the 1997 season after working 15 years as an assistant at Virginia, is known for producing disciplined football teams and winning consistently. He guided the Eagles to at least seven victories in each of the last eight seasons and six consecutive bowl victories, the longest streak in the country.

O'Brien is a 1971 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and is a former Marine. His Boston College teams have been honored for their graduation rates eight times, including a 100 percent graduation rate in 2004.

But O'Brien, 58, had grown frustrated in recent seasons because the Eagles could not attract much fan support in a city preoccupied by its professional sports teams. In each of the last two seasons, after the Eagles left the Big East Conference for the ACC, they were passed over in the ACC's bowl pecking order because of the school's inability to sell tickets for bowl games.

The Eagles finished 9-3 (5-3 ACC) this season and are ranked No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Boston College was in contention to win the ACC's Atlantic Division until losing to Miami 17-14 in its regular-season finale on Nov. 23.

The Eagles finished second in their division, behind Wake Forest, but still fell to sixth in the bowl selections. Instead of selecting the Eagles, the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando chose Maryland and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in Nashville picked Clemson. Each of those teams also finished 5-3 in ACC play but lost to Boston College during the regular season.

The Eagles will play Navy in the Dec. 30 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. It wasn't immediately known whether O'Brien would coach the Eagles in that game.

Boston College finished 8-3, 5-3 in the ACC in 2005, but was passed over by two higher-tier bowl games for teams that finished with 3-5 marks in the ACC standings. The Eagles ended up playing in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho, the ACC's last contracted bowl spot, and beat Boise State 27-21.

Also, O'Brien was among the ACC's lowest-paid coaches, according to a recent salary survey by USA Today. According to the report, O'Brien earned $737,626 last season, the 10th-highest salary among 12 ACC coaches. North Carolina hired former Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis last month and gave him a contract that will pay him $1.8 million per season, making O'Brien the 11th highest-paid coach in the league.

Former Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato, who was fired Nov. 26 after compiling a 49-37 record in seven seasons at his alma mater, had an annual salary of about $995,000 at NC State.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com senior writer Pat Forde and The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

Mark Schlabach | email

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