Here’s the write-up in the N&O. Excerpt:
When asked after practice Monday if he felt like he was on a “hot seat” in his seventh season, Amato quickly replied, “Why should I? No. Why should I?”
Amato noted all the improvements to a renovated Carter-Finley Stadium, noting, “That wasn’t there five, six years ago.”
Then there’s his record. Amato is 46-28 overall in six seasons, with four wins in five bowl games. He is 23-25 in ACC play.
“To build a program you’ve got to win it within the state first,” he said. “And in this state, there are five Division I-A schools. Check the records in the last six years. The second-winningest school in this state has won 30 [UNC]. That’s five a year. We’re two [victories] shy of winning eight a year.
Amato also compared his bowl record to that of the other programs in the state over the past 5 years, but Chip Alexander pointed out a pretty significant factual inaccuracy.
So, what are we to make of this? For one, the fire in the belly is good. The pride in getting the new facilities up and running is well justified. That said, there is alot about the statement that I very much don’t like. And as a proper disclaimer, I am certain that other SFN bloggers don’t necessarily share my opinion. See this link for a very vibrant, healthy discussion triggered by a different point of view.
I really, really dislike so much emphasis on how NC State compares to Duke, UNC, and Wake – consistently the three worst teams in the conference. One would certainly hope that we are better than that. It’s a bridge too far to claim hot seat immunity for not being in the bottom quadrant of the league – certainly over the long haul, such a position is untenable. Just as certainly, the bar is not set by being better than O’Cain (any more than it was for Sendek to just be better than Les). That almost goes without saying – if Amato hadn’t been better than O’Cain, we wouldn’t even be having this “hot seat” talk – he’d be fired already (well, at least under any AD not named Lee Fowler). Long-term (over, say, 7-10 years) we are going to expect more. Fair or unfair, that’s reality.
What is also reality is that our momentum as a program has slipped. Over the past 2 seasons, Amato’s ACC record is 6-10. Over the last 3 years, it’s 10-14. Is that fireable? Probably not. Is it something to brag about? Certainly not. All of the past 3 seasons can be fairly characterized as underachieving, even based on reasonable standards. We did win bowl games in 2 of those years – against arguably the worst bowl participants (Kansas and South Florida) each season. Again, there’s no shame in that, but not really something to crow about. It is, at minimum, an unfortunate failure to capitalize on the special Gator Bowl season. Which is why the next two seasons are critical – it’s time to see a spark of overachievement, or the pattern will be impossible to ignore.
By expecting more – believe me, I understand that the new ACC is tough. There will be ups and downs. Hell, I am even willing to accept that the strong, deep “middle class” of the league means that some years will end in records of 2-6, or even 1-7. But we need to at least periodically compete for at least the division title, and occasionally find ourself in the title game. After all, there are lots of solid teams in the Atlantic Division, but only one bully – Florida State – a team that Amato has had good success against. Having our guanateed annual “rivalry” game against the second weakest program in the Coastal Division (UNC) should also give us a competitive advantage against every team other than Wake, which obviously faces much greater barriers to success than its schedule.
Am I saying Amato is (or should be) on the hot seat? Not really. Ultimately, it’s really just a matter of semantics, because Lee Fowler would rather shoot himself in the groin with a nail gun than hire another revenue sport coach. The whole Sendek fiasco means that Amato can go 2-10, and do his press conference without pants. He’s not going anywhere. That said, it most certainly is fair to ask questions about the status of the program, and to cast a skeptical eye until we see a better product on the field. It could happen this year, or it could happen next year. But Amato needs to produce it, and we (as State fans) need to see it. The honeymoon days of blind optimism are over, and the lingering (if fading, and definitely less prominent) “Cult of Chuck” mentality seems a bit deluded.