O'Brien unhappy with Davis' claim

Staff writerDecember 16, 2009 

N.C. State football coach Tom O'Brien is disappointed with North Carolina coach Butch Davis' explanation of defensive end Donte Moss' suspension.

While announcing the one-game suspension for the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Tuesday, Davis said Moss pushed away an N.C. State player who was "kind of taunting him and in his face" on the field after the Wolfpack's 28-27 defeat of North Carolina on Nov. 28 at Carter-Finley Stadium.

O'Brien called a reporter with The Charlotte Observer and The Raleigh News & Observer on Wednesday afternoon to give a statement.

"Our players know what is expected of them and know how to conduct themselves, win or lose," O'Brien said. "After carefully reviewing this incident, I can say that in no way, shape or form did I see any of our players exhibit inappropriate behavior."

O'Brien declined to make any further comment. North Carolina football spokesman Kevin Best said Davis would have no further response.

A video of the incident obtained from N.C. State shows Moss crossing paths with Wolfpack linebacker Sterling Lucas after the game. The players may have brushed shoulders, and it was unclear from the video whether words were exchanged.

Moss quickly swung his right arm at the head of Lucas, and then retreated. Lucas tried to give chase but was restrained by teammate Owen Spencer, and the confrontation ended quickly.

Davis told reporters Tuesday about the suspension.

"He (Moss) made a very, very unwise action, pushing a guy away that was kind of taunting him and in his face," Davis said. "We had a private conversation and talked about it, and as I told him, it's something (where) you've got to have composure. It's frustrating, disappointing to lose a ballgame, but you can't lose your cool and lose your composure."

Davis added that Moss was apologetic and understood the reason for the suspension. Davis called the incident a "teachable moment."

ACC associate commissioner for football operations Michael Kelly said the conference office reviewed the incident and supported the suspension. Kelly said North Carolina, not the ACC, decided to suspend Moss.

This is the first public spat between O'Brien and Davis during their three seasons with their respective programs. Their predecessors, John Bunting at North Carolina and Chuck Amato at N.C. State, sparred occasionally, mostly over recruiting.

Before this season's game, O'Brien said he and Davis have a good relationship. He said they've played golf together on occasion. That included a dinner-and-golf outing with Wake Forest's Jim Grobe and former Duke coach Ted Roof in Pinehurst before the ACC media kickoff event in July of 2007.

"He's always been cordial and nice and supportive," O'Brien said in November.

Staff writer Robbi Pickeral contributed to this report

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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