The North Carolina State Wolfpack was never considered a yearly threat to win the ACC under Tom O’Brien. The job is a middle-of-the-road stepping stone gig. Maybe that’s why O’Brien’s firing caught so many off guard today. No one knows if there’s a strong argument for or against it.
College football programs aren’t hatched just for the fun of it. Naturally, North Carolina State wants more prestige, better recruits and a bigger bottom line. It’s doubtful that O’Brien could’ve gotten the program over the hump from “average” to “slightly menacing,” but now that he’s calling U-Haul, who’s his proper replacement?
If the Wolfpack higher-ups can afford to drop over $1.9 million on the 64-year old O’Brien, there’s a couple of ways to go about putting someone at the head of the ship who’ll direct the program into smoother waters and perhaps the ACC Championship Game on a yearly basis.
They could go for a bigger name hoping it would attract recruits. Gene Chizik‘s looking for a place to stay, but his 2012 salary was almost $1.5 million more than O’Brien’s. An investment like Chizik is simply not worth the effort.
There’s the far better option of looking at mid-major conferences which seem to be the cradle of coaches anymore. Forget coaching trees, the hills of the MAC are ripe with potential.
The highest-paid MAC head man is the Ohio Bobcats‘ Frank Solich who commands a paltry $511,500 for his work this season. Look to the Kent State Golden Flashes‘ Darrell Hazell or the Northern Illinois Huskies‘ Dave Doeren and start them at even half of what O’Brien was making.
If the experiment succeeds, not only does the Wolfpack improve, but those calling the shots look like geniuses. If it doesn’t, it’s North Carolina State. The college football community doesn’t expect anything from them aside from the occasional upset, and has no reason to.
Besides, who among you doesn’t enjoy a little MACtion? An infusion may be just what the Wolfpack – and the ACC – needs.
Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @eightlaces