Redskins

NC State fires O'Brien after 6 seasons

NC State fires O'Brien after 6 seasons

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien entered the season with hopes of contending for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Instead, his program continued its up-and-down ways of the past six years - which ultimately cost him his job.

The school fired O'Brien on Sunday, ending a tenure that was good enough to reach four bowls yet never could reach the ACC championship game.

Athletic director Debbie Yow made the announcement one day after the Wolfpack finished a 7-5 regular season with a win over Boston College. During a news conference, Yow said she met with O'Brien on Friday to discuss the future of the program, then notified him of her decision Sunday before meeting with the coaching staff and players.

``I told them it's really fairly simple,'' Yow said. ``Coach O'Brien and I agree on the goal of becoming a Top 25 program. We just don't agree on what it takes to do that, how to get there.''

O'Brien went 40-35 after coming to Raleigh from Boston College following the 2006 season. He took the Wolfpack to three bowl games, but won't coach in a fourth when N.C. State receives its bid next week. Yow said O'Brien's buyout would be $1.2 million over four years.

``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,'' O'Brien said in a statement issued by the school.

The 64-year-old O'Brien, who went 75-45 in 10 seasons at B.C. with eight consecutive bowl berths before his departure, said at his December 2006 hiring that it was ``N.C. State or bust for me.''

In his statement Sunday, O'Brien said he is looking forward to life after football.

N.C. State says offensive coordinator Dana Bible will be the interim coach for the bowl game. All other assistants are staying to continue bowl preparations.

``He's proud of the program we've built both here and at Boston College,'' said Bible, a longtime assistant to O'Brien. ``He's very proud of the way he and we have gone about the business of football. And he'll let his record stand as it may.''

O'Brien's teams were just 22-26 in ACC play and finished above .500 in the league just once, going 5-3 in 2010. He was 1-14 in Atlantic Division road games.

Only three ACC teams - No. 13 Florida State (10-2), No. 15 Clemson (10-2) and rival North Carolina (8-4) - had better overall records this season than the Wolfpack, who were 4-4 in the league.

That was good for third in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State and Clemson - exactly where they were picked in the preseason poll.

But consistency was a problem all season.

They opened with a 14-point loss to a Tennessee team that went on to finish 5-7. They blew a late 10-point lead and allowed an ACC-record 566 yards passing in a loss at Miami. They followed their first loss to rival North Carolina in six years by being routed at home 33-6 by a last-place Virginia team that had lost six straight. They also gave up 62 points in a loss at Clemson.

Not even a thrilling upset of then-No. 3 Florida State on Oct. 6 could save O'Brien's job.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that Yow said the school had lost about 1,000 season-ticket holders for football - a loss of $1.4 million - in the past six seasons.

Safety Earl Wolff said Sunday evening that he didn't think O'Brien deserved to be fired.

``We've had a lot of kind of mental breakdowns during the season ... so it's not all on the coaches at all,'' he said. ``It's on us players, too.''

O'Brien also faced some questions in the spring of 2011, when he parted ways with three-year starting quarterback Russell Wilson, who was attempting to play both minor league baseball and football at the high FBS level.

Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for his senior season, led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and wound up winning the starting job with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks as a rookie this year.

O'Brien's choice certainly appeared justified when Mike Glennon - who took over for Wilson - led the ACC in passing this season, averaging 304 yards.

The school says a national search for O'Brien's replacement will begin immediately, though Yow said the list of candidates won't include Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. Franklin was an assistant to former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and named coach-in-waiting while Yow was athletic director there, but Yow said she's ``assuming'' Franklin wouldn't be interested in the job.

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Jay Gruden doesn't care about Mason Foster's comments from private conversation

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden doesn't care about Mason Foster's comments from private conversation

Mason Foster created a firestorm when a private conversation emerged from social media in which the linebacker said "F*** this team and this fanbase" amid other disparaging comments.

Jay Gruden got asked about the comments on Wednesday, and the head coach didn't hold much back. 

"I really don't even care, it's a private message" Gruden said. 

The head coach explained that Foster was having a private conservation and the converation should not have reached the public eye. Gruden also explained that Foster is one of the best teammates and hardest workers on the Redskins. 

"I know what Mason is. I know what he means to this football team, what he's meant to this football team and anything he said in a personal message was personal and I really don't take anything from it," the coach said. 

Many fans are enraged by Foster's comments, and much of the anger is understandable. Multiple Redskins players have publicly criticized the team's fans this season, including D.J. Swearinger and Josh Norman, though Foster's are certainly the most pointed. 

What isn't known is the context of the conversation, and the type of relationship Foster had with the user. 

Regardless, Foster is the Redskins defensive captain, and for many fans that 'C' should be stripped from his jersey. After listening to Gruden, that doesn't seem likely. 

On the season, Foster has 108 tackes and two interceptions. He's played in all 13 games for the Redskins and also added two fumble recoveries. He was not available for comment on Wednesday. 

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Boyd, Jaskin sizzle as the Caps' fourth line continues to stay ahead of the curve

Boyd, Jaskin sizzle as the Caps' fourth line continues to stay ahead of the curve

Fresh off of a third-star recognition, Travis Boyd returned to home ice to score less than eleven minutes into Tuesday night’s game as the Capitals hosted the Detroit Red Wings.

Saturday’s goal, versus Columbus, was the first of Boyd’s career. The fact that his second came not even four days later may seem unusual – but with the Capitals’ fourth line cruising, it’s hardly a surprise.

The fourth line, consisting of Boyd, Nic Dowd, and Dmitrij Jaskin, has been together the past three games since Tom Wilson sustained an upper-body injury and the lineup changed. That version of the fourth line has combined for eight points in three wins. 

Dowd has had the most sustained success with seven points in his past nine games (three goals, four assists) - though not all of that came with Jaskin and Boyd. But together the trio continues to show that it shouldn’t be overlooked with significant contributions towards the team’s scoring.

“I think right now we're just having fun together,” Boyd said after the 6-2 win against the Red Wings. “It's kind of funny, you play games and you start making plays together and all of a sudden, it's kind of like a snowball effect. The more plays you make, the more confidence you get and it just kind of keeps going.”

The fourth line’s newfound confidence – and the fun they’re having with it – is tangible. Jaskin, after chipping past Detroit defenseman Mike Green, hustled to avoid an icing call and then helped feed Dowd, who passed to Boyd for a goal that put Washington ahead 2-0 just 10:50 into the game. 

The play looked effortless – so much so that the Red Wings were frustrated by the end of the first, down 3-0. It wasn’t until the third period that Detroit was finally able to get on the board thanks to a goal by Dylan Larkin that held up after a coach’s challenge for goalie interference.

Larkin spoke to the struggle to counter Washington’s fourth line’s success..

“There’s no bad players in this league,” Larkin said. “Whoever scores, it’s disappointing. But the next shift is the most important. We got penned in our zone a little too much tonight.”

Capitals coach Todd Reirden had high praise for the line’s developing chemistry.

“[There’s] a lot of chemistry,” Reirden said. “They're playing well and it’s great to see them get rewarded, and they could have had a couple more. They play the right way for the most part.”

Though Boyd, Dowd, and Jaskin have been outstanding in the past few games, it isn’t a completely new development, but rather, an improvement on a larger goal.

“It's something talked about in the summer,” Reirden said. “[There’s an] importance of having depth scoring and I think that was something we struggled with in the first 10 games of the year, getting scoring from that bottom six. Now it's been a really big part of our success.“

As the league evolves, requiring more skill and versatility from more players, Reirden remains positive that the Caps are ahead of the curve.

“The days of just having a fourth line guy that would be your tough guy, that's kind of gone away,” Reirden said. “I think where we're headed, [if] you can get offensive production from that fourth line, you become a very difficult team to match up against. That's a luxury as a coach if you can have that type of depth. Credit all goes to how our players have bought in and taken advantage of their opportunities. They've been given them, they've earned and deserved to be in that situation they're in right now.”


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