RALEIGH — News of football coach Tom OBriens firing surprised many, but shocked few, judging by the reactions of N.C. State University fans online and at a sports bar near campus. It seems that die-hards knew the change was coming, but they just werent sure when.
Even among some OBrien supporters, the sense at Sammys Tap & Grill was that OBrien hadnt pushed the team far enough during his six seasons at the helm.
I think its a little unjust. We did get three bowl games, said N.C. State junior Kyle Davis. But I guess (director of athletics) Debbie Yow doesnt want mediocrity.
The 64-year-old coach posted an overall winning record at State. His numbers werent bad enough to inspire high-volume fan grousing, and he had ended the season a day earlier with a victory against Boston College, where he had last coached.
I think he did pretty good. I dont even know what to say, said Tom Rompala, 36, who adopted the team when he moved here from New York.
But OBriens in-conference record was underwater at 22-26, and a loss to Virginia eroded much of his fading support, according to several long-time fans. OBrien was a solid coach, but he was too conservative. He played not to lose, said Bill, a long-time fan who declined to give his name due to a professional affiliation with the school.
He didnt inspire passion, said Jean Carroll, an alumna and three-sport season ticket holder. Asked how the football teams recent performance stacked up to the last few decades, she put it simply: Were 7-5.That says it all, agreed former radio host Bob The Blade Robinson, who had come with friends to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play.
States recent football seasons were definitely frustrating at times, said David Richey, a junior. But not disappointing, added Kyle Davis. Were not looking for 10-2 seasons.
The idea of a change is appealing to some. The schools basketball team has posted significant improvements since Yowreplaced former coach Sidney Lowe. On the Web, fans thanked OBrien for running a clean program, then set to speculating about his replacement.
It is time for a change, Robinson said. I cant wait to see who it is.