O'Brien: "They Have To Grow Up"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media following practice on Thursday and discussed some of his thoughts on the importance of student-athletes keeping priorities in order during their time on college campuses.

Tom O'Brien Audio

"I don't think it's any more difficult than it's ever been. Practices have been cut and the limitations of time that we have is a lot shorter now than it was 10 years ago. It takes somebody who is mature, somebody who has their priorities straight, that understands time management. That's one thing we do work continually with these guys on. The focus has to be on two things: number one football, number two academics or number one academics number two football. It doesn't matter what order they are in, those two have to be at the top of the list."

"You run into trouble when something else jumps up to number one or two. It's all about their time management skills and priorities. Those can be set by the university, the football coach, the basketball coach or the baseball coach, whatever team they are on. If it's important to them then it will be important to the team."

"We're pretty structured and academic support does a great job. They are the first ones certified in this conference by the national certification branch, so we take up as much of their time in the day that we are possibly able to so that we give them the support that they need."

"You could curfew every night if you wanted to, but I'd rather have guys that are responsible and accountable enough that they can figure it out on their own. I'm not doing them any service if I have to dictate or watch over or plan every day of their life. They have to leave here and be able to do things on their own. They have to grow up. It's part of it."

"Programs attract different types of kids, there is no question about that. It has played its way out on the national stage now and it has become pretty apparent to people that the way programs run is a reflection on the people that run the programs."

"That's something that we are certainly working on. A good guy to talk to is Jim Grobe, because he is the head of the ethics committee for the American Football Coaches Association. He happened to put me on his board so it's something we've started three years ago trying to put some teeth into some of the rules that we thought have been under punished."

"Practice went fine today. It's a little bit sluggish but whenever you change your routine that is the way it starts. We have to get in the routine, they have to get to bed at night. That's one of the big things about practicing in the morning. You have to get yourself to bed, which is tough to do in the dorms and where they live but they have to get rest, they have to eat right, they have to hydrate and they have to get their priorities right."

"The first thing you want to do is protect your quarterback. He's the valuable piece of the offense. Other than the center he's the only guy who touches the ball every snap so you have to make him successful and you have to keep him healthy. Everything that we do starts with protecting the quarterback."

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