Well, this is unexpected. Maybe. I think. I honestly can’t tell. Either way, add another school to this year’s coaching carousel.
North Carolina State is only one day removed from a 27-10 win over Boston College to put the Wolfpack at a perennial 7-5 on the year. Perhaps it is for that very reason that Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien is now out of a job. In a news release Sunday, the university announced that O’Brien has been fired after six years on the job.
Interestingly enough, O’Brien coached at BC from 1997-2006 before taking over as NC State’s head coach. Turns out, the Eagles would be his final opponent.
“Coach O’Brien’s service to NC State over the last six years has been sincerely appreciated by Wolfpack Nation,” athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “We especially appreciate his attention toward NCAA rules compliance, a value that will continue to be held by NC State. We wish him well in future pursuits.”
“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,” said O’Brien. “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.”
O’Brien’s time at NC State was filled with ups and downs. For every win over a Florida State or Clemson, there was a loss to Virginia, Boston College or Wake Forest.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as interim coach for the Wolfpack’s bowl game. A search for a new head coach will begin immediately. The first name being connected to the vacancy is Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. Franklin was Maryland’s offensive coordinator under Ralph Friedgen when Yow was the AD at the university. Franklin was supposed to be the coach-in-waiting before departing for Vandy.
O’Brien compiled a 40-35 overall record and a 22-26 record in the ACC during his time at NC State. His contract runs through Dec. 2015, and he will be paid a minimum of $1.2 million over those next three years.
For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.
First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.
Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.
“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”
Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.
In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).
The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.
Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.
While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.
Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.
Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.
Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.
In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.
Both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Ohio State showed out well during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night. Not surprisingly, both football programs did the same on one of the most prestigious teams in the sport as well.
Earlier tonight, the Walter Camp Football Foundation released its 2019 All-American teams, the 130th such squad recognized by the organization. LSU and Wisconsin led all schools with three first-team selections, while Ohio State led the way overall with five first- and second-team honorees (two on the first team, three on the second). LSU ended up with four overall, while Clemson had three (two first team, one second).
LSU and OSU were also one-two at the quarterback position, with Joe Burrow, also named the Camp Player of the Year, earning first-team honors and Justin Fields being the second-team selection.
Conference-wise, the Big Ten’s 15 selections on both teams led the way, followed by the SEC’s 13 and Pac-12’s seven. All told, eight of the 10 FBS conferences are represented — the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State (wide receiver Omar Bayless) claimed its first-ever Camp All-American — while 32 different schools claimed spots on one of the two teams. Two of those schools, Florida Atlantic (tight end Harrison Bryant) and Boise State (defensive end Curtis Weaver), had their first-ever first-team Camp All-Americans.
The AAC and MAC were the only FBS conferences without a player selected.
Individually, two players repeated as first-team All-Americans — Wisconsin running back and Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor, LSU safety and Jim Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit. Taylor is actually a three-time Camp All-American as he was named to the second team as a true freshman in 2017.
Delpit’s teammate, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., is the only freshman among the 51 All-Americans.
Wednesday, Mike Norvell confirmed the identity of his offensive coordinator at Florida State. A day later, it was the coordinator on the other side of the ball who was identified.
In what amounts to a reunion after a very brief time apart, Norvell announced Thursday that, as had been speculated, Adam Fuller has been hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. Fuller spent the 2019 season in the same position for Norvell at Memphis.
“We are so very excited about the addition of Adam Fuller to the Florida State football family,” Norvell said. “Adam is one of the top defensive minds in college football and has been a part of developing some of the most productive defensive units in the nation throughout his career. Coach Fuller will bring an aggressive and detailed approach to our Seminole defense. It will put our great student-athletes in a position to showcase all their skills and talents while being developed at the highest level.
“Adam has recruited the state of Florida, specifically the Tampa area, throughout his career, which will assist in fostering relationships throughout the state. I am excited to see him elevate our Florida State defense back to one of the nation’s elite.”
Memphis was Fuller’s second coordinating job at the FBS level. The first came at Marshall the year before.
“My family and I are very excited to join the Seminole program,” Fuller said. “The history and tradition of Florida State’s defense brings a major responsibility. I look forward to embracing the pride that comes along with that.”
Fuller and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham are the second and third FSU staff additions for Norvell. The first was Odell Haggins, who served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach after Willie Taggart was fired and was quickly retained by the new head coach.