Tom O’Brien To UNC?

David Glenn has a post up today with the details that he knows about the early stages of the UNC coaching search. The most interesting section is the one where he talks about the coaches who have initiated contact with Carolina. Two names stood out on that list – Rich Rodriguez, who talked about the Carolina job in a puzzling press conference yesterday and Boston College coach Tom O’Brien.
Rodriguez is intriguing simply because he is a hot name and would be such a great get. I mean, the man is coaching the #3 team in the country right now!
O’Brien is a different story altogether. While he’s not as sexy as Rodriguez, he has established himself as a very good coach and he’s built a very solid program. It would be highly unusual, especially in the new ACC for a head coach to leave one program for another. It would be especially strange if he were leaving one of the good programs. I think folks would understand if a coach jumped from Wake Forest or Duke to one of the power schools, but Boston College to UNC?
Why would O’Brien consider such a move?
The most plausible explanation is that he doesn’t really want the job at all. What he wants is the appearance that he could get the job. Being sought after gives you leverage. Leverage gets you a raise. It’s a standard part of the coaching game these days. Frank Beamer used the UNC job (intentionally or not) to get a huge bump at Virginia Tech. NC State earned raises for about half of the Division I basketball coaches in the country last year with their wide-ranging coach search. O’Brien may just be looking to line his pockets a bit with some of that extra cash the school picked up by jumping to the ACC.
Another possibility is that O’Brien feels that he’s done as much as he can at BC. Maybe he’s a bit tired of the job and wants a new challenge. Similarly, he may worry that the fans feel the same way. He’s certainly improved the program, but like a shark, fans always want their team moving forward. Have a losing record? The fans want to get to .500. .500? The fans want a bowl. Getting to bowls? The fans now want conference and national championships. O’Brien has BC consistently getting to pretty good bowls and on the fringes of the conference championship race. Maybe he’s worried that his efforts are now being taken for granted. A move to a new school would lower the bar and allow him to keep doing what he’s doing, but be appreciated more for it.
The only other explanation I can think of is that maybe O’Brien honestly feels that he has a better chance at going to the next level – national prominence – at UNC. If so, that’s a tough argument. As I’ve debated before, I believe that UNC is a first-tier national athletic program with the potential to be great at any sport. They have the resources, support and reputation. On the flip side, with Duke, Wake Forest, NC State and East Carolina around, there is a ton of competition for local talent. Sure, the northeast may not have the athletes that the southern states do, but BC doesn’t have too many schools to fight with for the players that are there. Recruiting is fertile, but extremely competitive down south. I think someone could turn UNC into a consistent power – Mack Brown was on his way there – but it won’t be easy. If that’s what O’Brien is thinking he can accomplish, he might want to reconsider. The grass isn’t always greener.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *