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O'Brien won't coach Boston College's bowl game

BOSTON -- Boston College is looking for its seventh bowl
victory in seven years while starting a search for a coach to build
on the departed Tom O'Brien's success.

O'Brien left Friday to coach North Carolina State, one of BC's
Atlantic Coast Conference rivals. Defensive coordinator Frank
Spaziani will serve as interim head coach in the Meineke Car Care Bowl
against Navy on Dec. 30 in Charlotte, N.C.

"I want to thank Tom for 10 really, really great years at
Boston College," BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said Friday
night, about an hour after North Carolina State announced O'Brien's
appointment. "He left this program in a lot better shape than the
program he found."

BC was a combined 9-15 in the two seasons before O'Brien took
over and went 4-7 in each of his first two years. A stretch of
eight consecutive bowl games began in his third season. This year's
bowl game follows a 9-3 season.

"We're going to go quick, but we're not going to hurry" in
finding a new coach, DeFilippo said. "We want someone that's a
teacher -- not a schemer -- and the student-athletes come first,
someone that understand how important the graduation rate is at
Boston College."

DeFilippo said his search will be "nationwide" but did not
specify any candidates.

He said he and O'Brien reached a "mutual" decision for O'Brien
to skip the Meineke Car Care Bowl "in the best interests of everybody." He
said he expects all the assistants to coach in that game.

Spaziani, who has been on O'Brien's staff since 1999, said,
"We've had a system that's been in place for quite a while" that
will still be there against Navy.

Junior quarterback Matt Ryan was surprised at first by O'Brien's
departure and said O'Brien and the players had an "emotional
meeting" Friday.

"I have a lot of respect for Tom O'Brien. He's a great man and
a great coach," Ryan said. "That's the nature of college football
and the nature of the business -- change is a constant."

Freshman linebacker Mark Herzlich said, "There's not a guy on
the team that is happy that coach O'Brien is leaving," but players
are happy for him in moving to a job he prefers.

DeFilippo said it wasn't "a sad day. We're happy for coach
O'Brien. He found something that was better for himself and his
family. We're thankful for Tom and what he did for us, but we're
excited to take it to the next level."

He said O'Brien's total compensation was $1 million a year. NC
State said he'll get $1.1 million annually as the replacement for
Chuck Amato, fired Nov., 26 after a 3-9 season.

If DeFilippo seeks a coach with New England connections, he
could interview Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark
Whipple, the former head coach at Massachusetts and Brown, or
Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall, an assistant at BC from 1991
to 1993.

The Eagles lost 17-15 this year to North Carolina State on a
touchdown with 8.5 seconds left. They had a chance to go to the ACC
championship game against Georgia Tech if they beat Miami on Nov.
23 and Wake Forest lost to Maryland two days later. But Miami won
17-14. Wake Forest also won and then beat Georgia Tech in the title
game.

At BC, O'Brien was 75-45 but didn't go to any major bowls. He
spent the previous 15 years as an assistant at Virginia, the last
six as offensive coordinator.

DeFilippo was willing to let him leave for a school BC must play
every season.

Asked if he tried to retain O'Brien after North Carolina State
showed interest, DeFilippo said, "I learned of it last weekend.
Tom and I talked at length, but those talks will remain between him
and I."

He also defended North Carolina State athletic director Lee
Fowler.

Fowler "has been criticized for having somebody from the same
league," DeFilippo said. "North Carolina State handled everything
in the right manner."

The only other time an ACC coach left for another team in the
same conference was in 1956 when Jim Tatum went from Maryland to
North Carolina.

"It's flattering to the players when coaches are being offered
jobs at other schools," Ryan said. "We're going to get through
this. We're going to be just fine. We've got to get ready for
Navy."