N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien becomes the first surprise coaching casualty

Not a lot of people considered Tom O'Brien on the hot seat this season, especially since North Carolina State finished 7-5, 4-4 in conference play and third in the ACC Atlantic.

Yet, O'Brien was the first coach shown the door Sunday following the Wolfpack's win over Boston College to mark the end of the regular season. O'Brien, 64, completed the Wolfpack's third consecutive winning campaign.

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"Coach O'Brien's service to N.C. State over the last six years has been sincerely appreciated by Wolfpack Nation," athletics director Debbie Yow said in a statement on the school's website. "We especially appreciate his attention toward NCAA rules compliance, a value that will continue to be held by N.C. State. We wish him well in future pursuits."

But the season did not live up to expectations and the Wolfpack never posed a serious threat to ACC Atlantic stalwarts Florida State and Clemson in the standings. Even though N.C. State did upset the Seminoles 17-16, the Wolfpack's inconsistent play also led to losses to North Carolina and Virginia.

O'Brien was 40-35 in his six seasons with the program, but just 22-26 in ACC play. He was 11-19 against ACC Atlantic opponents and just 1-14 on the road against those teams.

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"I appreciate the opportunity to have coached at North Carolina State University and I feel that the program is in a better place now than when I started," O'Brien said in a statement. "I'm proud of the young men that I have coached here, for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom.

"Wolfpack football is as sound academically as it's ever been with a [single year] APR of 990 to be reported this spring. I appreciate all of my coaches and wish them the best and I look forward to life after football."

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