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Dr. Saturday

Tom O’Brien drives N.C. State’s latest Internet craze: ‘TOBing’

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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First it was planking. Then Tebowing. Now, TOBing?

The latest posture tribute isn't exactly sweeping the nation, but it has become popular with N.C. State fans. TOBing is the act of posing like N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien, which according to its Tumblr site means, "Cross your arms and quietly survey that which lies before you. And if there's a little America on your hat, well, all the better."

What you're surveying is a 4-4 record for the Wolfpack going into Saturday's rivalry showdown with North Carolina, which includes a disappointing 1-3 in conference play. No wonder O'Brien appears to have a concerned look on his face.

It started out, as most Internet memes do these days, as a one-off joke on Twitter, a parody of the short-lived "Tebowing" fad, but TOBing appears to have some legs.

A website - tob-ing.tumblr.com - is cataloging pictures of O'Brien in his trademark stance as well as fans' imitations of it - including a strikingly dramatic shot of a Wolfpack fan TOBing on a Tallahassee, Fla., dance floor before the Florida State game, blurred bodies swirling around him in the near-dark.

It's an homage to the coach, but it's also gently mocking, a subtle reference to some fans' main complaint about O'Brien: He doesn't show enough emotion on the sideline.

It's probably no coincidence that this fad has come to light during UNC week. O'Brien and North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers have already traded barbs though less about what's happening on the field — for good reason since UNC is 2-3 in ACC play — and more about, of all things, academics.
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"When you have as many schools in this state as you have and the recruiting base gets watered down a little bit, I think the kids in this state need to know 'the flagship school,'" Withers said Wednesday. "They need to know it academically. If you look at our graduation rates opposed to our opponent this week's graduation rates for football, I think you'll see a difference. If you look at the educational environment here, I think you'll see a difference."

Kind of ironic, considering one of the reasons coach Butch Davis was fired was because of NCAA violations, including some that had to do with academics. And of course, that little nugget wasn't missed by O'Brien.

"As far as the flagship, here was a guy (Withers) who was on a football staff that ends up (at the NCAA headquarters) in Indianapolis." O'Brien said. "You have an agent on staff, you are paying players & you have academic fraud. That's a triple play.

"At our school, number one, all classes have a syllabus. Our guys go to school, they are not given grades, and they graduate."

Cue TOBing here.

Well, I guess when you're not doing well on the field you have to find something to spice up the rivalry.

As far as N.C. State fans go, they probably hope their new craze gives O'Brien better luck than Tebowing did Tim Tebow last week.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.

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