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November 25, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
According to Matt Carter of TheWolfpacker.com, the move was widely seen as a foregone conclusion, and only a matter of time once Debbie Yow was named the athletic director in 2010
"O'Brien really was not her type of coach," Carter said. "The move was not really a surprise. Debbie puts a major emphasis on recruiting, and she believes in a different type of approach than Coach O'Brien did.
"She wants someone to be proactive. She wants a go-getter and someone who will be energetic and really hit it hard on the recruiting trail. She wants what Mark Gottfried is to basketball for this football program."
O'Brien compiled a 22-26 record against ACC teams but was just 11-19 against Atlantic Division opponents, faring miserably on the road at 1-14 in his six seasons. His overall record was 40-35 with eight of those victories coming against FCS programs.
O'Brien never kept up with the rest of the conference on the recruiting trail. N.C. State finished in the bottom half of the conference in all but one season under him, including a last-place recruiting class for 2011.
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said the move was a needed one.
"It was probably the right time for this to happen," he said. "O'Brien did not do a bad job there, but I don't think he did the job they hired him to do.
"He started off strong and rebuilt a lot of bridges that (former head coach Chuck) Amato had burned in the state, but he was never able to take the next step and he was never able to be consistent in the recruiting efforts."
A large portion of the blame for the lack of recruiting success, according to Farrell, is that other programs feel very confident in raiding the state for its top football talent.
"Fans do not want to hear it, but basketball hurts them in football," he said. "Teams like Georgia, Florida and others will come in and sell the SEC. They can sell national championships and football first. Basketball in the triangle certainly pushes kids out of schools like N.C. State."
Carter thinks that the majority of the current class will remain.
"A bulk of them will stick this out for sure," he said. "There are a couple guys that may look around and have some other opportunities, but for the most part I think it holds together."
As is the case with most coaching changes, it is the out-of-state players who are most likely to get immediate phone calls.
According to Carter, the most likely to have other options are three-star running back Matt Dayes from Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay, three-star running back Joshua Mercer of Guyton (Ga.) South Effingham, three-star receiver Kyrin Priester out of Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood, and three-star linebacker Jerod Fernandez from Lake Mary (Fla.) High.
Farrell agreed with Carter that the class stays relatively intact but suggests that may be as much of a problem as it is a silver lining.
"You want to have guys that other schools want," Farrell said. "This is not a sexy class because O'Brien was not that kind of recruiter. He was widely known as a development coach and a great talent evaluator. He would find players that were overlooked and get a lot of them.
A national search for a head coach will begin immediately, and offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game.
Farrell said that, of the schools within the state, N.C. State may be the best positioned to consistently move up in national perception.
"If any school in that area can really take it up a notch, it is N.C. State," he said. "They have nice facilities, they have a good fan base, and while they have a good basketball program, it will not get top billing like at North Carolina or Duke. If they can get a culture changer in as their head coach and start getting the guys that everyone knows about instead of the guys they think they can mold, N.C. State could be a force in the ACC."