O'Cain, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at James Madison this past season, spent the previous eight seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer. He was the head coach at N.C. State from 1993-2000.
“We feel very fortunate and honored to have a man with the experience, knowledge and character that Mike O’Cain brings to ETSU football,” Torbush said. “I have known since the day I got this job that Mike was the person I wanted as our offensive coordinator. He and I go back a long way and we have developed a strong personal and professional relationship over the years both coaching together and against one another.
“Mike is one of the most well respected coaches in America, and he will also give us great recruiting contacts in both the Carolinas and Virginia. There is no better hire for our program than Mike O’Cain.”
O’Cain said he was excited to have an opportunity to work with Torbush, his longtime friend and coaching colleague, and that ETSU provides a unique situation with the start of a completely new football program.
“Carl and I worked together at North Carolina and I’ve known him for 30 years or more, so I have tremendous respect for him, and the chance to work with him was something I couldn’t pass up,” O’Cain said. “Secondly, I was extremely interested in the challenge of taking nothing and building it into a team. I’ve been in a lot of places and done a lot of things, but I’ve never had an opportunity like this where you start from scratch. I’m looking forward to doing that here at ETSU.”
A veteran of the Atlantic Coast Conference, O’Cain was the offensive coordinator at both North Carolina and Clemson. He has also coached in 19 Bowl Games during the course of his time with these teams.
O'Cain began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 1977. He then coached the offensive backfield at The Citadel between 1978-80 before moving to Murray State where he was an assistant under Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer from 1981-84.
After a one year stint as the assistant head coach at East Carolina, he joined the N.C. State Wolfpack as a quarterbacks coach. O'Cain was the top assistant under Dick Sheridan from 1986-92 and helped lead the 'Pack to six bowl game appearances. In 1993, after Sheridan retired, O'Cain was named head coach and became the second coach ever in N.C. State history to lead his team to a bowl game in his first two seasons.
After notable wins verses No. 1 Florida State and Texas in 1998 and 1999, O'Cain became North Carolina's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for one year. He then moved to Clemson to take the quarterbacks coach role until 2004.
During his time at Virginia Tech, O'Cain turned Logan Thomas into a competitive college quarterback. In his first year working with the new quarterback, Thomas broke the school's single-season record for total offense and became just the second 3,000-yard passer in school history.
He nurtured Tyrod Taylor over the preceding four years, helping him become a versatile dual-threat quarterback who eventually was drafted by the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Prior to Virginia Tech, O'Cain coached at Clemson serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was instrumental in the guidance of another future NFL quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst, who established 33 school records, including passing yardage and completions for a season.
A native of Orangeburg, S.C., O'Cain was a three-year letter winner at Clemson, where he was the most valuable player and a captain of Clemson's 1976 team, working as both the punter and quarterback. He is still ranked in Clemson's history for passing efficiency. He received his bachelor's degree in recreation parks administration from Clemson in 1977.
O'Cain and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters, Jenny (28) and Lizzi (26).