Monday, November 15, 2010

O'Brien talks about UNC, NCAA and the rivalry

With his team getting ready to visit North Carolina on Saturday, N.C. State football coach Tom O'Brien was asked about the ongoing NCAA investigation taking place at UNC.

"First off, I don’t think you ever want to see anybody in our conference in that situation," O'Brien said Monday at his weekly news conference, "because I believe we pride ourselves [on NCAA compliance] in the ACC, and I don’t know what the outcome is, other than there seems to be something over there going on."

"Second of all, anytime you have an agent thing, I think, certainly you have to evaluate what you’re doing and look at what your program is doing, if you’re doing the right things as far as protecting your players and educating them and making sure that you’re doing the best you can. Because certainly no one in college football lives in a glass house. It could happen a lot of different places."

An NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits provided by agents and academic misconduct at North Carolina has resulted in 14 players missing at least one game this season. Six players are out for the season; six have returned to the lineup and the status of two others has yet to be announced.

"The constant struggle we have as coaches and - I’m not going to speak for [N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow] here - but as administrators is to make sure you’re doing the right things and we’re abiding by the rules and regulations not only of North Carolina State but of the NCAA," O'Brien said.

N.C. State (7-3, 4-2 ACC) needs to win at noon Saturday at UNC and on Nov. 27 at Maryland to be assured of an appearance in the Dec. 4 ACC championship game in Charlotte.

O'Brien said the implications for the ACC title game are important Saturday, but they don't make the rivalry game more significant.

"That’s the carrot to win the game, to get to the ACC championship," O'Brien said. "As I said Saturday, the road to Charlotte goes through Chapel Hill. You have to get through Chapel Hill. Well, if you’re at N.C. State and you’re part of this football program, you have to win in Chapel Hill anyway.

"It’s something that is part of the culture here. We accept that fact and our kids have really risen to the occasion, have played well anytime we’ve played against North Carolina since I’ve been here."

O'Brien is 3-0 against North Carolina as N.C. State's coach.

Ken Tysiac