RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tom O'Brien came away impressed by the
scene at Carter-Finley Stadium three months ago when North Carolina
State upset his Boston College team.
The Wolfpack's boisterous fan base, upgraded facilities and
largely untapped potential helped convince him to switch sidelines.
"The excitement that fateful night I was here in September was
as good as any place I've ever been," O'Brien said Saturday at a
news conference introducing him as coach. "There's great people
and great excitement at Boston College, but timing is everything.
... This is N.C. State or bust for me."
The 58-year-old O'Brien came to Tobacco Road after going 75-45
in 10 seasons at Boston College and leading the Eagles to eight
consecutive bowl berths. He replaces Chuck Amato, a former N.C.
State linebacker who was fired the day after the Wolfpack closed a
3-9 season with their seventh consecutive loss.
O'Brien received a seven-year contract worth $1.1 million
annually, but that amount could jump to $1.8 million if several
on-the-field and academic incentives are reached, athletic director
Lee Fowler said. The contract also includes a buyout of $600,000
for each year remaining on the deal, Fowler said.
"I think he's coming here to finish his career," Fowler said.
ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach first reported the hiring on Wednesday.
Fowler said O'Brien first appeared on his radar when his name
was mentioned as a possible candidate for the North Carolina job,
which ultimately was filled by Butch Davis.
After Amato was dismissed, Fowler said he interviewed a few
coaches -- including Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm
Chow, a former N.C. State assistant -- and later became aware of
O'Brien's interest through headhunter Chuck Neinas.
Fowler requested and received permission from Boston College
athletic director Gene DeFilippo to speak to O'Brien on Dec. 3, and
he discussed the job with the coach that night. Talks increased
Wednesday, Fowler and O'Brien reached an agreement that night and
the school's board of trustees approved his contract two days
The rare in-conference coaching switch -- just the second in the
Atlantic Coast Conference's history -- comes with a noteworthy
increase over O'Brien's reported salary of about $734,000 at Boston
College, and a jump from the $995,000 N.C. State paid Amato
"There was never a question in my mind, when I talked to his
representation, that he was really interested. It wasn't like this
guy was going to ask for the moon, and if we didn't give it he was
going to walk away," Fowler said. "It came together pretty
quickly as far as that was concerned."
O'Brien, who was an assistant at Navy and later Virginia before
going to Boston College in 1997, called the N.C. State program "a
sleeping giant" because the school has spent millions recently on
its facilities yet has remained a middle-of-the-pack team in the
Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Just the whole thing of a state university, the state of North
Carolina, a great high school football state, the opportunity to
recruit in this part of the country and get back down here, that's
the thing that enticed me most," O'Brien said.
N.C. State hasn't finished higher than fourth in the ACC since
the Wolfpack placed second in 1994. N.C. State finished in last
place in the Atlantic Division this season, and Amato's tenure at
his alma mater ended with consecutive losses to in-state rivals
North Carolina and East Carolina.