I may be overreacting, but a comment reported in todayâ€™s News & Observer causes some real concern about the coaching search.
NC State Athletic Director Lee Fowler, who stumblebummed through the Sidney Lowe hiring some months back, told the newspaper that, â€œ[h]e has talked with Chuck Neinas, a Colorado-based headhunter who helped North Carolina hire Butch Davis, about the search but said there was no contract with Neinas.â€
Now, while this is not specifically contrary to Fowlerâ€™s previous announcement that NC State would use a â€œsearch firmâ€ for the hire, it seems odd, to say the least, that one would employ a search firm without a contract for that firmâ€™s work.
Odder still is the recent report from the Charlotte Observer on the matter, which suggests a more concrete role for Nienas in the search:
Unlike the school’s basketball search, which athletics director Lee Fowler conducted on his own, N.C. State will use a consultant. Chuck Neinas of Neinas Sports Services in Colorado, who helped North Carolina hire Davis, will help Fowler gauge the interest of coaches and negotiate.
Perhaps, as a lawyer, I am hung up on the term â€œcontract.â€ But letâ€™s face it: most fans anticipated (and expected) that Fowler would not take the lead in this search given the universityâ€™s public humiliation the last time Fowler tried to hire a major coach. And in the Lowe case â€œCoachâ€ Fowler was dealing with a sport heâ€™d actually played and coached.
A scenario where Neinas merely acts as a sounding board for Fowler suggests a far more significant decision-making role for â€œCoachâ€ than I am comfortable with. Simply put, there is nothing about Fowlerâ€™s work last time around â€“ nor, in fact, in general â€“ that makes one feel warm and cozy at the thought of him calling the shots for such an important hire.
And Iâ€™m not alone in that opinion. Even discounting the â€œlunatic fringeâ€ (translation: loyal fans and alumni) members who openly concur that the prospect of Fowler running this search gives them the willies, consider todayâ€™s comment from, of all sources, Al Myatt of Bonesville.com:
Given the spectacle of N.C. State’s recent venture in hiring a basketball coach, Wolfpack athletic director Lee Fowler might do well to put Neinas on his speed dial as a successor to Chuck Amato is sought. Had that phone call been made after Herb Sendek left for Arizona State, the Pack would have been saved the suspense and agony of missing on high profile types such as John Calipari of Memphis and Rick Barnes of Texas.
Myatt also noted with approval how UNC’s Dick Baddour learned his lesson after the Beamer and Roy Williams fiascos â€“ resulting in the Butch Davis home run. In contrast, thereâ€™s more than a whiff of evidence that Fowler still doesnâ€™t get it; the public rejection of NC State feelers by god-candidate Bill Cowher has a depressingly familiar similarity to the Barnes turndown earlier in the year.
And of course, â€œCoachâ€ being â€œCoach,â€ Fowler just took time out to blather to The Technician that other than finding a new football coach, it’s those dratted Internet fans that are â€“ are you ready for this? â€“ the biggest challenge for NC State athletics:
But other than that, the biggest challenge? It’s probably the message boards on the Internet. There is so much negative stuff coming off the boards, and I think that drives the newspapers. Then the papers are constantly chasing stuff that’s being talked about on the Internet. But I think that’s the biggest challenge facing all ADs.
There are so many people on the Internet, and you never know who they are. You don’t know if they are affiliated with N.C. State in any way.
Listen up, â€œCoach,â€ and listen well: Iâ€™m â€œaffiliatedâ€ with NC State through the degree that hangs on my wall, among other items â€“ an affiliation which, I note in passing, you lack. And based solely on your past performance, I donâ€™t believe you are the best person to take the lead on this coaching search.
One cascade of national humiliation is quite enough, thank you.