NEIL CORNRICH & NC SPORTS: MANAGING THE CAREERS OF PROFESSIONALS IN THE SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tom O'Brien is next great ACC coach



TOM SORENSEN

November 14, 2007

From Tom O'Brien to Martin Iti and other sports figures with nothing in common ...

After beating the Carolina blue and white Saturday, N.C. State football coach Tom O'Brien celebrated by walking to a downtown Raleigh pub and drinking a black and tan.

A black and tan is a mixture of two beers, one of them dark, usually Guinness. The best way to describe the result is this: If you're sitting at a bar, and somebody orders a black and tan, you probably will, too.

I think O'Brien, who is in his first season, will be the ACC's next great football coach. After opening the season with five losses in six games, his team has won four straight, the last of them against North Carolina.

He didn't panic during the slow start. There's a confidence about him. It was as if he knew what he did would work. His players saw that, and they believed, too.

Compare this team with last season's. Instead of being disciplined by officials, N.C. State is disciplined. Practices are shorter, meetings more infrequent. The night before a game they might talk for five minutes. And nobody worries about O'Brien bolting to Arkansas.

He knows his role. O'Brien wore conventional adult clothing to his coach's show before the first nine games. Before the North Carolina game, he wore a Wolfpack red blazer.

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