O'Brien, who had been serving as Virginia's offensive coordinator since 1991, was formally introduced as BC's new head coach at a Dec. 14 press conference in Conte Forum. He thanked University President William P. Leahy, SJ, Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk and the search committee for giving him "a tremendous opportunity," and expressed confidence that he could make the football team competitive while upholding the University's academic and spiritual character.
"We want to be a family here," O'Brien said. "We want to try to recruit people into this program that are fine, upstanding young men and student athletes."
"I am delighted that Tom O'Brien has become our new head football coach," Fr. Leahy said. "I am not only confident that he will be highly successful at Boston College, but I believe he will live out, in his life and in his work, the traditions and values of this great Jesuit university."
Gladchuk added, "Tom comes to Boston College with a proven understanding of the commitment necessary to develop a high degree of success as a student-athlete, coach and, collectively, as a team. I am especially impressed with the work ethic and intensity he has displayed, and the results that he has achieved. He fully understands the educational mission of Boston College and reinforces our commitment to an appropriate balance between academics and athletics."
At Virginia, O'Brien drew praise for directing a consistently high-performing offense which, in the 1996 seasaon, helped the Cavaliers become the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to score at least 300 points in eight consecutive seasons. He has proven effective in coaching quarterbacks and developing offensive linemen, and is regarded as a top-notch recruiter - among the players he recruited for Virginia was Chris Slade, now a linebacker with the New England Patriots.
At the press conference, O'Brien described how the University's attributes would aid his recruiting efforts.
"You have great academics. You have the opportunity to play in a great conference. You have the opportunity to play on television, which is real important to kids, and you have the city of Boston itself," he said. "I try to assess how I would feel sitting in a 17-year-old's living room selling this school and I would feel very comfortable doing that."
Prior to arriving at Virginia, O'Brien was the offensive line coach for seven years at the US Naval Academy, from which he had graduated in 1971 after playing defensive end for the Midshipmen. O'Brien, a Cincinnati native, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps following his graduation, and later was promoted to major.
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