Outside of the ACC, the NC State head coaching position has almost come to be defined by the two previous coaching searches. To everyone looking in, it seems to be a complete mess of a job due to the terrible administration, over-bearing redneck fans and the shadow of two college basketball behemoths looming over.
While those searches were both handled incorrectly and terrible for their own specific reasons, the national media has already decided that State won’t be able to do better and is already expecting too much. So here we are. Two weeks removed from the firing of Mark Gottfried and at least 3-4 weeks from the hiring of a new coach, let’s take a deep dive, not at the potential coaches, but at the job itself.
Despite my constant pessimism (the kind that goes with being a Pack fan) the NC State job really has a lot going for it.
This may shock people, but NC State has proven to be a place that (somewhat) recruits itself. Outside of the city accolades, over and over, top 100 recruits choose to play in the best conference in the country. Herb Sendek, Sidney Lowe and Mark Gottfried each were able to attract loads of talent. They just had trouble A) coaching them up and B) keeping them here.
It’s not all about facilities, but they help. It has never been a negative, but when you add a recently renovated Dail Practice Facility and the upcoming basketball-only dorms (I hear there’s only a handful in the whole country) to PNC Arena, few can match.
NC State (and the economy as whole) is in a much better spot than we’ve in been in previous years. Ticket sales and donations have been solid, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Wolfpack Club. And apparently a competitive $3.5M – $4M yearly package would be available. It would have to be THE guy, but it’s nice to have some stacks at your disposal for negotiations.
Look, I’m not saying that Dayton or VCU or Wichita State or St. Mary’s or wherever is not a good job because it’s not in a Power 5 conference. As a matter of fact, all those mentioned are really good jobs. But their long-term, sustainable ceiling is lower than a mid-tier ACC job. Part of that goes in conjunction with recruiting, but for the most part, it’s all about being in the ACC and right down the road from Duke & Carolina (I’ll bring these up later).
State fans care about this team and its history. It’s not only obvious from our behavior at games and at the tailgate, but it’s obvious in the financial giving. The fans have made a sizable financial investment in this program and just want to see the ROI. To me, Debbie Yow didn’t have a choice once the apathy took hold over the course of this season.
I would have this is a positive, but since State is not a top 3 job in the ACC (Duke, Carolina, Louisville), that path to the NCAA may be harder, or so they say. If you’re a coach who is only comfortable when beating up on St. Bonnies and Evansville plus HAVING (as is the case with Wichita State) to win your conference tournament, then you do not want this job.
Duke & UNC:
This seems to be at the top of every talking head’s list. Personally, I see being on Tobacco Road as a bonus, but the proximity to Coach K and Roy Williams seems to scare a lot of people. For all his faults, Mark Gottfried never backed down from the blues (with the exception of the 51 point blasting at Carolina) and this was certainly not the reason he was let go. Everyone else in the conference has to play them, we just don’t need to travel as far.
On the flip side of that passion is an immense amount of pressure. There are small factions that are unreasonable (as there is with any fanbase), but the same rules apply from the “Competition” Section. “If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen” (lame quote on my part…I already know).
For all non-bluebloods, it’s pretty much the same story in terms of perception. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We know this isn’t Kentucky, Kansas or (God, smite them down) Carolina, but all we consistently hear from pundits is something along the lines of “please know your role and take this polite pat on the head.” Screw you.
Is it too ambitious to try and do what UNC & Duke have done in the last few decades? Most definitely YES. But is it too ambitious to compete for ACC titles ask for what we’ve seen at UVA, Notre Dame, FSU, or even Miami? No, I don’t think so.
Bottom line, I think State has already had to take that hard look in the mirror after the past 11 years and two coaching searches and that can only help, with what we all hope, is the last coaching search for years to come.