Thomas P. O'Brien
(born October 5, 1948), is an American college football coach
. He is the current head coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack
. Previously, O'Brien was the head coach at Boston College
from 1996 to 2006.
After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1971, O’Brien served nine years in the Marines. During this time he began coaching as an assistant for Navy’s plebe (freshman) team, then served at the Marine base in Quantico, Va., as well as tours of duty in California and Japan. O'Brien reached the rank of major in the Marine Corps Reserve.
In 1975, O’Brien returned to Navy and joined the staff of George Welsh, coaching tackles and tight ends. When Welsh became head coach at the University of Virginia in 1982, O'Brien joined his staff, where he remained for 15 years. During this period Virginia had 10 consecutive winning seasons and a share of two conference championships. O’Brien served as offensive coordinator in his final six seasons and consistently ran one of the top offenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
From the time O'Brien took the helm as head coach of Boston College
in 1996 until his departure in 2006, the Eagles attained a consistently high level of achievement, both on the field and in the classroom:
- 2005's team was the first since 1984 to be ranked in the top 25 in at least one of the two major polls from start to finish. The team finished 17th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, its highest finish in that poll since 1993 (12th). It finished 18th in the final Associated Press poll, its highest finish in that poll 1993 (13th). The Eagles finished 12th in the final Sagarin rankings, which take into account win/loss record and strength of schedule. According to the rankings, the Eagles played the 22nd-most-difficult schedule in the country in 2005. Only Virginia Tech (5th) finished higher in the Sagarin rankings among ACC teams. *The team became the 11th in BC history to win nine or more games in a season; three of those seasons have come under Tom O'Brien. The 2005 senior class won 35 games, the most in the modern era of BC football history. The 35 wins also ties for the best four-year mark in school history (1939-42). The Eagles have now strung together the most successful five, six and seven-year periods in school history.
- The 2005 Eagles led the ACC in total offense, averaging 387.8 yards per game, and also led the league in rushing defense (90.8 ypg).
- In 2005, Boston College was ranked number one in the country by USA Today when the paper re-ordered the final 2005 football Top 25 by APR (Academic Progress Rate) score to measure a combination of athletic and academic success. BC was one of six Division I-A institutions with a football graduation rate of 90% or better, along with Duke, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Southern Methodist University and The University of Southern Mississippi.
O'Brien's penchant for losing big games, most notably to Syracuse in 2004, earned him the nickname "The Hen" among the growing number of disgruntled BC fans. The nickname had many meanings, but referred specifically to his habit for laying an egg in big games, and to his constant squatting on the sidelines and examining the grass as his season melted away in front of him. By the time it became clear that O'Brien was going to get the new job that he so deperately sought, many in the BC community were happy to see the coach who decalared "8 or 9 wins is the best you can do at BC" leave for NC State. That quote has haunted O'Brien, as his successor at BC, Jeff Jagodzinski, won 10 games in his very first year.
North Carolina State
It was announced on December 8, 2006 that O'Brien would be leaving Boston College to take over the helm at NC State
, replacing outgoing coach Chuck Amato
. According to ESPN
writer Mark Schlabach, NC State chose O'Brien over Navy
coach Paul Johnson
. All but three of his staff are following him to NCSU. O'Brien's departure to NC State will represent the third time in ACC history that a head coach has left one ACC school for another (Jim Tatum
& Bobby Ross
O'Brien was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he played football at St. Xavier High School
. He went on to play collegiate ball at the U.S. Naval Academy
, distinguishing himself as a three-year starter at defensive end for the Midshipmen
O'Brien is active in community outreach programs and serves on the board of directors for the Marine Corps' "Toys for Tots." He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. He was a major in the Marine Corps reserves.
O'Brien also owns a vacation home in South Carolina where he plans to spend his retirement after coaching.