UVA Football Reportedly Hires Former N.C. State Coach Tom O'Brien as Assistant
When Virginia coach Mike London cleaned house and gutted most his assistant coaches, the onus was on the three-year coach to make a splash in the offseason with his replacements.
Well, in his first move, that mission was most certainly accomplished.
According to CoachingSearch.com, replacing former Virginia superstar quarterback and 2011 tight ends coach Shawn Moore is none other than recently terminated North Carolina State head coach Tom O'Brien.
O'Brien and Virginia have a history that goes way back, being a member of former Cavalier legend George Welsh's staff as offensive coordinator from 1982-1996.
O'Brien was the architect of some of the best teams in the school's history, including his work with players like Shawn Moore, Charles Way, Tiki Barber and Jim Dombrowski.
As an assistant head coach, O'Brien is one of the most experienced in the country, having been head coach at two other ACC schools, where he compiled an overall record of 115-80.
On one hand, this looks like an absolute slam dunk hire for Virginia. O'Brien brings in name recognition that helps in recruiting, he brings in experience and he has connections to the university which help make up for the pitfalls of unceremoniously dumping Shawn Moore in December.
So far, the reaction from the players on social media has been very encouraging. Current tight end Jake McGee, whose spectacular catches against Penn State and Miami led Virginia to two critical victories last season, said the following on Twitter: "very excited by the hire. go hoos we will be doing big big things together."
Grade the hire by UVA?
Most importantly, O'Brien fills a serious gap from the resume of head coach Mike London. While London still has a great deal to prove with X's and O's and game management, O'Brien has a wealth of experience and leadership.
He can game-plan and execute that strategy effectively. Few would expect O'Brien to make similar gaffes like putting the punt team out on a 4th-and-1 situation against Louisiana Tech and being caught with 12 men on the field, nor would they expect him to sit on two timeouts like Virginia did against Virginia Tech in the season finale.
Therein lies the potential problem.
The reported hiring of O'Brien leads to the potential of two head coaches. Just how willing is O'Brien to be an assistant again for the first time in 17 years?
Is he really going to be a good soldier for coach London, particularly on some of the more peculiar calls that have been made in the past three years?
How much input will he have on offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and the offense? Will he interfere with Virginia's decision of picking a quarterback in 2013?
What will he do if he does not like the result? Could he try to run out a few of the options?
O'Brien took this job knowing the potential danger that coach London's job is in. While his hiring creates a solid foundation on which to grow, it also harbors the potential to make a disappointing situation into a toxic one next season.
How exactly will this hire play out? Never have I been able to envision two completely different visions in my head with both seeming feasible.
For now, Virginia fans should certainly celebrate this marquee hiring. Time will tell what this move means for both O'Brien and London.
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