O’Cain returns to run Pack offense

May 31, 2011

Mike O’Cain is back with the Pack!

Well, sort of.

Via Owen Good, fellow N.C. State/Technician alum and Kotaku.com columnist, we learn that the Wolfpack’s offensive coordinator on EA Sports’ NCAA Football 12 is an homage to the former Pack coach. Good lays it all out in a post on the game’s new “Coaching Carousel” feature:

That leads us back to Owen O’Cain. When you pick up NCAA Football 12, that’s the name of N.C. State’s offensive coordinator. (Game producer Ben) Haumiller himself put that in as a nod to Mike O’Cain (pictured at top), who was State’s head coach when I was the sports editor of Technician, the student newspaper. You can see the name in that screengrab. (Evidently he was hired from within after a surprise departure, the way O’Cain himself was when Dick Sheridan abruptly stepped down in 1993.)

O’Cain’s sort-of appearance in the game is a reminder of how odd his tenure at State was. As Good notes, O’Cain’s teams included some excellent players (led by Torry Holt) and had some astounding wins (FSU in ’98, Syracuse in ’97 and ’98, Texas in ’99). He also sandwiched the FSU and Syracuse ’98 wins around a horrific loss to Baylor and failed to beat North Carolina in seven tries, speeding him toward a cold-blooded, Thanksgiving-morning firing in 1999. Few were sorry to see him go, but O’Cain did oversee some of the program’s greatest victories.

O’Cain is now the OC at Virginia Tech.

The importance of a good application letter

March 1, 2011

Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert (center) beat out several other candidates, including former N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato, to become the Charlotte 49ers' first football coach.

The Charlotte 49ers announced today that Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert will be the school’s first football coach when the team debuts in 2013.

Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose admitted that she’d never even heard of Lambert before getting his application letter three weeks ago. Rose said:

“I read his letter of application and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, who is this guy?’ It was not your cookie cutter letter. No, it talked about growing up on a farm in Kansas, work ethic and what he would do as coach. So I started making phone calls.”

This is an important lesson for you soon-to-be college graduates out there: A good cover letter is crucial when applying for any job.
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N.C. State’s greatest quarterback*

February 16, 2011

Russell Wilson's place in N.C. State history is loftier than you think.

If you’re still reading this, you’re at least slightly open to a little heresy. And suggesting that anyone other than Philip Rivers is N.C. State’s all-time best quarterback qualifies.

When he graduated in 2003, Rivers held nearly every N.C. State and Atlantic Coast Conference passing record. He is the all-time conference leader in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. He’s second in quarterback rating and adjusted yards per passing attempt, according to sports-reference.com. Listing Rivers’ NCSU records would take up more space than the Internet allows.

Russell Wilson built a more humble legacy. It appears that he’ll leave N.C. State sharing the conference and school single-season records for touchdown responsibility, with 37 last year. He’s sharing that record with, of course, Rivers. Wilson also holds the school records for single-game completions (38 against Boston College in 2010), single-season pass attempts (527 in 2010) and single-season total plays (670 in 2010).

Rivers has a far deeper statistical footprint. But before you dismiss the idea that Wilson was in the same league, consider Quarterback A and Quarterback B: Read the rest of this entry »

Do you know your enemy?

November 27, 2009

When I was a freshman at N.C. State, I quickly learned that I needed to know four words in the fight song above all others. I could be forgiven for not knowing the rest as long as I shouted “Go to Hell, Carolina!” at the top of my lungs. (The actual words to the song are “Come over the hill, Caroline,” but really, what fun is that?)

For Wolfpack fans, it’s crystal clear that North Carolina is their rival. But Sports Illustrated has a survey out that shows every fan base in the ACC doesn’t have the same clarity, at least when it comes to figuring out who’s their main in-conference rival.

The SI survey covered every I-A conference in the country. Andy Staples wrote a summary of its results, including this description of how it came about:

In October, we asked college football fans of all stripes to tell us about themselves. We received 33,144 responses to questions such as “What is your favorite team?” and “How closely do you follow recruiting?” We received responses from fans of all 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and everyone’s answers counted the same — whether they came from Ohio State fans (the most, with 2,004 responses) or Florida Atlantic fans (the fewest, with four responses).

That last sentence tells me this wasn’t the most scientific survey, but that doesn’t make the data for the ACC any less interesting. Here’s how fans from each school answered the question “What is your biggest conference rival?”:

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Instead of Texting Pick ‘Em: Week 13

November 27, 2009

As is often the case with the holiday season, the last weekend of regular season ACC football seems a little anti-climactic.

Clemson clinched a spot in the conference title game last week, joining Georgia Tech for a rematch of their highly competitive game from week 2. Georgia Tech won the first half of that game, 24-0. Clemson took the second half, 27-6. The comeback wasn’t enough in a contest we’ll be revisiting next week.

Tech and Clemson take two final stabs at defending the ACC’s honor this week. The Yellow Jackets host nemesis Georgia, while Clemson travels to Columbia to play arch-rival South Carolina.

Elsewhere, the intraconference games largely match bottom- and middle-feeders. Duke and Wake Forest will meet in a matchup of two of the conference’s most prolific quarterbacks, eighth-year seniors Riley Skinner and Thaddeus Lewis. Maybe it only seems as though they’ve been playing college football that long.

Boston College seeks its second road win against Maryland.Virginia Tech seems likely to give Al Groh a rousing sendoff in what will probably be his last game coaching Virginia. Miami plays at South Florida in what may be the best matchup of the weekend.

Finally, we have the rotting husks of two rivalries: North Carolina plays at N.C. State, while Florida State travels to Gainesville to play Florida.

Closer to home, my lead in the IoT season standings is officially insurmountable. Jeremy and I differ on two games this week; sweeping them would only get Jeremy to within three games of me. I’d like to thank Boston College for nailing this one down for me by mailing in the Carolina game last week. At this time (midday) next week (Dec. 4), I’ll be getting ready to eat a steak in New York, courtesy of Jeremy. Or, chicken on a stick from a street vendor. Depends on my mood.


Jimmy’s Picks (63-24) Jeremy’s Picks (58-29)
Clemson at South Carolina Clemson South Carolina
North Carolina
at N.C. State
North Carolina North Carolina
Wake Forest at Duke Duke Duke
Florida State at Florida Florida Florida
Virginia Tech at Virginia Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Georgia at Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
Miami at South Florida Miami South Florida
Boston College at Maryland Boston College Boston College

Instead of Texting Pick ‘Em: Week 12

November 21, 2009

The IoT team had a bit of a long week, so we haven’t had much time to post. We’re planning to pick up the pace next week, but we couldn’t let this Saturday go by without getting our picks in.

Like the ACC Coastal Division, the IoT picks league is all over but the crying (for me, at least). Jimmy widened his lead by correctly picking North Carolina and Boston College last Saturday. My chances of catching up have gotten a lot slimmer, especially since we agree on just about everything this week, except the UNC-BC game. I get the feeling I’m going to hear a lot of gloating at the IoT summit in New York in two weeks.

Jimmy’s Picks (58-24) Jeremy’s Picks (54-28)
at Florida State
Florida State Florida State
North Carolina
at Boston College
North Carolina Boston College
at Miami
Miami Miami
at Clemson
Clemson Clemson
N.C. State
at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech Virginia Tech

Instead of Texting Pick ‘Em: Week 11

November 13, 2009

Three weeks from now, Team IoT will meet face-to-face in New York City. One of us will be buying a grossly overpriced steak for the other.

This weekly picks column will determine whose wallet gets lighter in The Big Apple. Right now, I’m holding a two-game lead on Jeremy. As has become our custom, we differ on two games this week: Miami at North Carolina and Boston College at Virginia.

Four of six ACC games Saturday will occur in central North Carolina. The corpse of Florida State, beheaded last week by the needless loss of quarterback Christian Ponder, is traveling to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest. Duke hosts Georgia Tech, the ACC’s last hope for national relevance. Miami visits Chapel Hill to play North Carolina. And N.C. State hosts C.J. Spiller and Clemson. A warning to the Wolfpack: I’ll be in the stands this week. State hasn’t won a game I’ve attended in five years.

A tangent: at Carter-Finley, I’ll be wearing my T.A. McLe … er, my Levar Fisher jersey. A funny story: at the last home game of the 2002 season, McLendon and Phil Rivers jerseys were both on sale for $20. “Why get a #17 that will only be useful for another year,” I thought. “You’ll be able to wear that 44 when Touchdown Anytime wins the Heisman in 2004! And hey, how about Kelly Rowland? Beyonce will rue the day she split with THAT hitmaker.” Way to be, Jimmy. Way to be.

Elsewhere, Virginia hosts Boston College, while Virginia Tech travels to College Park to play Maryland.

Jimmy’s Picks (53-23) Jeremy’s Picks (51-25)
Georgia Tech
at Duke
Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
at N.C. State
Clemson Clemson
Florida State
at Wake Forest
Wake Forest Wake Forest
Virginia Tech
at Maryland
Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
at North Carolina
North Carolina Miami
Boston College
at Virginia
Boston College Virginia

IoT’s Power Rankings: Week 10

November 12, 2009

As a former student reporter once said about a student government meeting, there was an awful lot of motion in the ACC last weekend with very little movement in the IoT power rankings. Most of the top and bottom of the rankings stayed the same, with some slight changes in the mushy middle.

Meanwhile, we’re trying something a little different with the power rankings this week. Jimmy is tackling the Coastal Division (a.k.a. – the better half of the conference), while I take on the Atlantic. This arrangement works out rather nicely because it gives me the chance to do some gloating about a bit of a dispute we’ve been having. More on that later in the rankings — much later.

On to the rankings:

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What does an eye gouge get you in the ACC?

November 11, 2009

My good friend Matt Taylor, who writes the outstanding Roar from 34 blog on the Baltimore Orioles, sent me a link to this video earlier today. Keep an eye on Andre Branch, No. 40 for Clemson, about four seconds into the clip.

In case you missed what happened there, Branch pulls FSU guard David Spurlock’s head back and appears to try to gouge his eyes. Florida set the going rate for an attempted eye gouge in the SEC at a half-game suspension after Brandon Spikes dug his fingers into Georgia RB Washaun Ealey’s helmet. (To Spikes’ credit, he voluntarily lengthened his own suspension to a full game.) Wonder if Dabo Swinney will set the bar higher in the ACC.

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IoT’s Power Rankings: Week 9

November 7, 2009

Since Jeremy and I didn’t get any comments or emails over the Power Rankings’ absence last week, I can only assume you’re all capable of great restraint. Life has gotten busy around IoT headquarters lately; all apologies.

There’s been plenty of turnover at the top of the conference since we last checked in. Miami held first place for a week, only to yield to Georgia Tech after an overtime home loss to Clemson. After two straight losses, Virginia Tech is falling, but not freely enough to give anyone new a shot at the top three. Clemson is the first time all season to hold onto our fourth spot, defending it with a 49-3 win over Coastal Carolina.

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