LRM’s Initial Reaction to Mark Gottfried

By the time Mark Gottfried was hired, I was indifferent, borderline lethargic.

I was working in Puerto Rico that week, with no 3G and very limited Wi-Fi, and I’d already begun my self-imposed month-long hiatus – like I do every spring – away from all things N.C. State, which is entirely necessary to preserve my sanity. Every April I wonder how that kid from the foothills ended up a lifelong State fan and the only answer that ever seems to make sense is indeed quite simple: it wasn’t a choice, it’s inherent. So every May I find my way back.

I’ll forever remember my response on that Tuesday afternoon in April, when I got my buddy’s text that we’d hired Gottfried, which mercifully ended another grueling coaching search that it’s unfair to call mishandled, but entirely fair to call disappointing: “Don’t even joke about that, can you imagine how screwed we are if that’s true?”

Perhaps that reaction was irrational, based on Gottfried’s lineage and marginal success at both Murray State and then Alabama. But it was an honest reaction nonetheless. Look, it’s nothing against Gottfried, necessarily. I’d read The Letter the night before, so I’d made peace with the fact this coaching search wouldn’t end any better than the previous one. Regardless of what I hoped, I knew all along it wouldn’t be Billy Donovan; and as soon as Arizona beat Duke, I knew it wouldn’t be Sean Miller. I understood that we’d blown our shot at Rick Barnes last time around.

But as a long-suffering State fan, I was finally forced to accept that, in fact, all those folks were right: our job wasn’t the destination job we all so vehemently believed. The great N.C. State tradition of the older generations – the one largely responsible for building the ACC into something beyond a regional phenomenon – had been effectively and systemically annihilated by two decades of corrupt, opportunistic cronyism by our incompetent – and far too often, impotent – administration.

So while I’ll admit I didn’t necessarily find the hire inspiring, being a pragmatist I can at least appreciate its necessity, and I decided immediately to give him a fair chance, just like I did his predecessors. I wasn’t impressed by his coach-speak at the introductory press conference, because every coach “says all the right things” when he’s hired. Saying the right things doesn’t make him a winner. But he does seem to have an appreciation for the task at hand as well as the often unrealistic expectations us State fans tend to have. And so far, he’s assembled a fine staff and he’s apparently made quite the immediate impact on the recruiting trail.

It’s far too early for me to formulate any kind of definitive opinion about Mark Gottfried. But for me, his real value before he’s coached even a single game has proven to be intangible. He’s obviously both well-liked and -respected by his former ESPN colleagues, and just a few months into his tenure he’s already generated an improved perception of this wannabe program that can never expect to compete with Carolina and Duke.

If nothing else, I’ve somehow found myself excited about the possibility of Gottfried returning us to prominence, and I’m making a concerted effort to have a positive outlook on what he offers. Obviously, I wish him nothing but wild, unrivaled success. He may never win a game at State, but if having him on the sidelines keeps Mike Patrick and Andy Katz from constantly running their yaps about their favorite coach out in the desert, then I’ll forever remember Gottfried as one of State’s great coaches.

As for results, I don’t ask for much. Just beat Carolina and Duke regulalry and win the ACC Tournament. I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.

About LRM

Charter member of the Lunatic Fringe and a fan, loyal to a fault.

11-12 Basketball Mark Gottfried NCS Basketball

65 Responses to LRM’s Initial Reaction to Mark Gottfried

  1. Wolfman 9806 10/19/2011 at 12:15 PM #

    Well said, I feel the same way. I had never heard of Gott until we hired him. Look at it this way, we have only one way to go from here (and that’s hopefully up). Let’s hope basketball season dulls the sting of football.

  2. codebrown 10/19/2011 at 12:29 PM #

    Yeah LRM, this clearly isn’t Pulitzer worthy. Where are all the stats and analysis and history on Mark Gottfried that pertains to NC State?

    You know, you ought to pick a clear title next time. Otherwise, some people might get the impression that you’re writing a meaty dissertation of your thoughts on a coach that hasn’t coached a single game at State yet.

    LRM Note: codebrown has the distinction of having sent the infamous text.

  3. GAWolf 10/19/2011 at 12:35 PM #

    That about sums it up for most of us to this point.

    JerseyWolf. Please send your article to SFN and we’ll gladly post it on the front of the page completely unedited assuming it’s not satire or vulgar. Otherwise, feel free to creep back on up to Jersey and criticize how they’re doing their meat up there, son. We don’t need that, as you’re guilty of exactly what you complain. Your statement adds no meat to anything at all.

  4. baxter 10/19/2011 at 12:44 PM #

    I was definitely on the, who the heck is that? line of thinking when we were first hiring Gott. That being said, I liked some of what I read about him afterwards, except the vague reasoning for his departure from Bama.

    However, when I look at what he has done and said since then, I’m nothing but impressed. The way this staff has recruited so far has been beyond exceptional, and if you ask me, he’s out recruiting the blues right now, as far as the intensity that he and the staff display and the methodology of having either Gott or two of his assistants at every targets games/events this evaluation period. His push to hire Alejo and the assistants, as well as bring in Harrick to help consult transitioning our guys to the UCLA has been phenomenal. Just look at the weight that Howell dropped, the muscle Painter added, and just the overall demeanor and intensity the guys are showing in the video’s posted yesterday from practice.

    I think we have the pieces to surprise some people this year, and no, I’m not saying we are anything more than a bubble team at best, but I really like what he’s done so far without having to coach a game yet.

  5. packplantpath 10/19/2011 at 12:56 PM #

    “Mark Gottfried may never win a game at State, but if having him on the sidelines keeps Mike Patrick and Andy Katz from constantly running their yaps about their favorite coach out in the desert, then I’ll forever remember Gottfried as one of State’s great coaches.”

    Ah, the perks of low expectations!

  6. tractor57 10/19/2011 at 1:08 PM #

    To date I’m happy with coach Gott. Of course that means very little without performance on the court. At the same juncture with Lowe I also was encouraged (but I realized there were MANY issues to be handled). There are still issues but so far they don’t see to be related specifically to the coach himself.

    I might have an entirely different view after the upcoming season I’ll grant.

  7. GAWolf 10/19/2011 at 1:08 PM #

    You’re so Jersey. What brought you to Raleigh from Jersey?

    Go wolves, maybe you and Jersey can trade meat.

  8. PoppaJohn 10/19/2011 at 1:11 PM #

    Just listening to DG at Operation Basketball, he picks us in the “middle 4″ of the 12 teams, defined as the teams that COULD make the NCAAT. Would we have that dubious praise if Sid were still here? I doubt it. He’s got Tech, MD, BC and WF as the bottom 4, and Fla St, Va Tech and the blues at the top.

    I think Baxter hit it – Gott has done everything right so far. I have no complaints whatsoever. He found AJ, which I think will prove to be very helpful this year. He has a couple of strong recruits for next year, and perhaps more coming. He has extensive contacts in the coaching community. (unlike Sid) Everything we’ve heard says he and his posse will recruit well. And that will only improve if he can put something on the court this year that isn’t embarrassing. I think he’s handled the media well, better than our last two coaches already. His ESPN experience may have helped with that, or maybe he was always that way. He’s gotten the team in shape, and gotten them into the gym – something Sid couldn’t do. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the fact that he’s bringing the UCLA offense. I could care less about the ‘UCLA offense’ itself, but just bringing ANY FREAKIN’ OFFENSE is a great thing to me.

    And I realize that means NOT A BLOODY THING if he can’t coach his way out of a paper bag, but I want to believe that the coaching committee he has on board will translate to a team with a plan on the court. What I mean by that is, a substitution pattern that makes sense and helps the team. Clear defensive intensity, which with our athletes should translate to possessions. Rebounding – why not? We have size and athleticism – we should be great at it. And an offensive flow that gets better as the season progresses, and is tough to defend.

    All that may not lead to the NCAAT this year, but if he can coach this team to a winning record and into something that scares people, especially at the RBC, then I will be satisfied for this year. Next year at Operation Basketball I want to hear them talking about the transformation at State and how they are a team to watch.

  9. Will NCSU 10/19/2011 at 1:35 PM #

    I do not like Harrick being anywhere near the program. We get enough scrutiny as it is.

  10. PoppaJohn 10/19/2011 at 1:42 PM #

    ^ Darn good point, the guy’s been in trouble everywhere he’s touched

  11. JerseyWolf 10/19/2011 at 1:52 PM #

    FWIW I think Harrick is a great addition. He 70 years old, and is not employed by the university. He solely works for Coach Gott as his personal mentor. As long as he is not involved in recruiting (which he is not) it is no big deal. Having a mind like Harrick on our side can only benefit our program. Dude has had success every where he goes including a NC.

  12. Gowolves 10/19/2011 at 1:56 PM #

    GAWOLF,

    Don’t make it personal. If you want to do that, let me ask you two questions? First, How old are you? Because you are acting like a child. Second, Why do you feel the need to defend others. Let LRM speak for himself. Oh I forgot I have a third one. How long did it take you to think of that great comeback? Pretty snappy son. This is not where I wanted this to go. I am from the south and I am not fond of the north either but to make some comment about going home is stupid. I know I have made that comment a thousand times. I look at it like he is a pack fan first and the rest doesn’t matter.

    I don’t know LRM at all. But since he is a wolfpack fan he can’t be half bad.

  13. Wulfpack 10/19/2011 at 2:09 PM #

    Gott seems to get it. For that, I am hopeful. I don’t know if he can get us to compete regularly with the blues, but we sure as hell are going to be better than the previous 5 years.

  14. PoppaJohn 10/19/2011 at 2:16 PM #

    ^ Hope you are right, hope you are right, hope you are right, ….

  15. PackMan97 10/19/2011 at 2:33 PM #

    I am extremely bullish on Mark Gottfried and that Pack’s future. I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t know what the W’s and L’s will show this season, but that isn’t very important to me. What is more important is the attention to detail these guys have brought to our program, their hard work and their focus on making NC State be all it can be.

    For the first time since I’ve been an NC State, I can actually see a program being built.I see the changes that have been made in the practice facility, honoring our greats, mirror the RBC court’s paint scheme, little things like that. I see the changes made in strength and conditioning. The changes made in expectations for gym time, for diet, for physical conditioning, etc.

    I see the time and effort they are putting into recruiting. From getting Alex Johnson and Thomas de They, both of which don’t just add warm bodies they add maturity and hard work which was a real weakness last year. Finding both of them in such short time is phenomenal. Anything that add on the court is just a bonus, imo. Then to talk about next years recruiting? Holy smokes! What more could you ask for? Gott and his assistants are just hitting it out of the park!

    So far at this point I haven’t see a single mistake they’ve made.

    To me, the real icing on the cake is that the ACC is ripe for the taking if we can step up. The ACC has seen heavy turnover. Duke and Carolina are obviously #1 and #2, but both of their coaches are in their 60′s and the chances of both of them being there in 5 years is slim and most likely in 10 years, neither of them will be there. Clemson and FSU are really the only other programs in really good shape right now…everyone else is a disaster and either breaking in new coaches (MD,GT,NCSU,BC,Wake,UVa,Miami) or stuck in mediocrity (VT). Sure, we have the Cuse and Pitt coming in soon, but they don’t scare me. We have a real chance to become a premier program in the ACC and the country and maybe I’ve been wearing my State colored glasses for too long, but it looks like we are doing everything possible to take that opportunity.

    Needless to say, I’m excited about Gott and this team!

  16. golf76 10/19/2011 at 2:58 PM #

    Not to change the subject but isn’t today the day the NCAA is supposed to announce UNCX’s penalty(ies)?

  17. JasonP 10/19/2011 at 3:00 PM #

    I get the feeling that Gott’s going to give this team a puncher’s chance in just about every game.

    I’ll take it.

    I’ve long wanted to watch the Pack get back to butt kickin’ and showing these other clown schools what it means when we tell them we’re going to take them behind the barn after they make some snotty remark about cows and farming.

    I’m also looking forward to the possibility that announcers might take to calling Gott’s teams “physical” as in “this State squad is just going to outphysical you to get a rebound.” That will bring a smile to my face.

  18. Rick 10/19/2011 at 3:00 PM #

    I deleted all of the whining about how the article was written.
    If you want to discuss the subject of the article feel free.

  19. Howler 10/19/2011 at 3:04 PM #

    PackMan 97, that was a good post, but let’s be honest, we will ALL be looking at the W’s and L’s this year because they will show us a lot. If we have a good coach, he’ll win several that he shouldn’t, and we won’t lose against the early small conference opponents; Outside of the W’s and L’s, we’ll also be competitive in the losses if Gottfried is as good as we now hope he is. (i.e. no “Wisconsin come to reality moment” like in last year’s ACC-Big Ten challenge.)

    As a Pack fan, I grow tired of always being told that we are one recruiting class away from great success, even though the facts tend to support that assertion this year.

  20. wufpaxno1 10/19/2011 at 3:08 PM #

    Thanks Rick! We all bleed Red here, we just don’t need to be beating it out of each other. Now back to the subject, if Gott has made this team mean and lean, and all appearances point to him having done that, then maybe we can beat some blood out of the blue bellies, both of them. Go Pack!

  21. lawful 10/19/2011 at 3:19 PM #

    Sorry, as the eternal pessimist, I’ll believe it when I see it. God rest Jimmy V.

  22. PackMan97 10/19/2011 at 3:24 PM #

    Howler, my point on the Ws and Ls is that this year they are secondary to the effort on the court. Of course, I’m hoping that the effort on the court is reflective of a very good record. I look at it like I look at the recent streak the women’s volleyball team went on. There is no doubt that the ladies are SIGNIFICANTLY improved, even if it isn’t showing up as much in the Ws and Ls as it should. That’s what I meant.

    I’ll be straight up honest, I think this team is capable of making it the NCAA’s and maybe even making some noise if everything goes as well as I hope it does. I won’t be shocked if that happens. I also wouldn’t be shocked if we miss out on the NIT because of our toughened schedule (more non-Conf Ls) and some learning curves within the team. I guess we’ll start to find out in month or so :)

  23. Wufpacker 10/19/2011 at 3:26 PM #

    Put me in the “desperately hopeful but I’ll believe it when I see it” group. I think Gottfried could succeed if he can keep a staff that can recruit well (as they have so far). He won’t turn scrubs into all-stars, but he won’t get in the way either (as opposed to the recent past).

    If recruiting caves, look for only marginally improved results over the long haul.

  24. MattN 10/19/2011 at 3:40 PM #

    Not sure I’d call his success at Alabama “marginal”. He won a regular season title and took Alabama to number 1 in the country and NOT in football either. Those are 2 accomplishments the last 3 NCSU coaches combined could not achieve. When was the last time we won a regular season title? 1988? When was the last time we were ranked number 1? 1974? If he does either of those here, then he has moved our program forward in a big way.

  25. LRM 10/19/2011 at 3:55 PM #

    Just because he’s had more success than Robinson, Sendek and Lowe doesn’t make an argument for his success being beyond marginal.

    My argument for marginal: Gottfried was 83-82 at Bama during an historically weak period for the SEC where only Billy Donovan’s Florida demonstrated any prolongued success, and his last few years the program was in steady decline. Also, his #1 ranking was for a single week in December 2002, and was largely a result of the previous team’s success as SEC regular season champion (2001-02); I’m just not lending much credence to a #1 ranking in December when the end result is 17-12 (7-9), a first round exit from the NCAAT and finishing outside the Top 25.

    However, I wholly agree with your last sentence.

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