November Looms

Many of us have been discussing the Carolina loss and what it means for this season and TOB’s future. Please don’t mistake me for a staunch TOB supporter, but after giving it some thought, I’m not ready to fire him just yet. I’m willing to see how November plays out first because at 5-3 (2-2), with a quarter of the season remaining, I still think it’s too soon to draw any concrete conclusions.

The season isn’t over.

[All my buddies just double-checked the byline because there's no way this is LRM]

Bear with me here as I try to rationalize.

SFN conducted two uber-scientific polls in the preseason. In the first poll, out of 666 votes cast, 292 members (44%) predicted that State would go to the Peach Bowl, while 120 members (18%) predicted the Orange Bowl. In the second poll, of 1,422 votes cast, 493 (44%) predicted we’d finish 5-3 in the conference, 436 (31%) predicted 4-4, while 233 (16%) predicted 6-2. Think about it this way: in the past 20 years, we’ve finished 6-2 only once (1994) and 5-3 only three times (1998, 2002, 2010).

Part of the problem is perception. When every 6-6 (and in the case of 2011 UCLA, 6-7) team gets a bowl, an eight-win season is considered mediocre, which is entirely fair (particularly in a weak ACC). Compounding this, after the Orange and Peach, the ACC bowl tie-ins just aren’t very attractive to fans, and so an eight- or nine-win season that ends in the Russell Athletic Bowl versus the Big East #3 is considered a letdown.

Look, I’m not making excuses here. Folks like me, who have shelled out way too much of our disposable income on WPC dues, LTRs and season tickets over the past decade trying to invest in the national prominence we were promised, don’t like to be told we need to temper our expectations of what this program should become. And many folks felt like this was our best opportunity under TOB, and that’s fair. But, if we want to be reasonable — not often our strength — then we must accept that this still has the potential to be a very good season.

With a very manageable November schedule — Virginia (2-6, 0-4), Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4) and Boston College (2-6, 1-4) all at home, and a road game at Clemson (7-1, 4-1) — it’s still possible for us to finish with eight or nine wins and go to to the Russell Athletic Bowl or even the Peach Bowl, which is right in line with where many of us realistically felt was our ceiling before the season. After the Miami loss, many of us probably would’ve considered 8-4 or 9-3 and either of these bowls quite the success. But then we beat Florida State and got lucky against Maryland and had control of our own destiny in the Atlantic (just like in 2010). So, naturally, being the volatile fan base we indeed are, we quickly re-calculated our expectations and set our sights on Charlotte and then Miami, and anything less would be disappointment.

Of course, our dream disintegrated (once again) on Saturday. Even worse, we’re now feeling the full brunt of the loss at Miami, where a win means that today we’re still in control of our destiny in the Atlantic. But, as November looms, we can still salvage a very good season, and with a lucky break, perhaps even a great one. With a little help from Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Nov. 8) and/or Maryland (College Park, Nov. 17) against Florida State, then we could regain control of our own destiny in the Atlantic and could still win the ACC. We were always going to have to beat Clemson to win the Atlantic, so that hasn’t changed.

Even if we don’t win the Atlantic, with a strong finish we’ll be an attractive Peach Bowl option. Clemson is currently 13th in the BCS standings with a game remaining against South Carolina (8th), so if they win out, and assuming Florida State wins the Atlantic and then the ACC, then Clemson may become an at-large BCS team, which would open up the Peach Bowl to an 8-4 N.C. State. Now, it’s a cloudy scenario because beating Clemson would likely push them into the Peach Bowl.

Moreover, an eight-win season would mean the first consecutive three-year stretch of eight-plus wins since the days of TheCowDog and Lou Holtz from 1972-74. Dick Sheridan never did it. Now, I agree that eight wins nowadays isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago, when seven-win teams routinely stayed home. But, it perhaps means we can begin putting a transition plan in place to implement what Daily Update calls “The Frank Beamer Virginia Tech Plan.”

And I’m not suggesting we should lower our expectations; quite the contrary. All I’m saying is we — myself included — can be reasonable about a third consecutive eight-win season (for the first time in 40 years) not being the disaster it felt like Saturday evening. At the very least, for the first time in over two decades, it shows sustained progress. Sure, there’s plenty of work to be done. We all know we can’t make the leap with three-star talent and we can always expect TOB to frustrate and confound us with some of his in-game decisions; and we’re going to lose games we shouldn’t lose and win games we shouldn’t win. And if we’d beaten Carolina Saturday this would be a moot discussion. But, if we finish 8-4 or better, then it’s tough to argue we aren’t better off as a program, relatively speaking, than we we’ve been at any point in the past two decades. And that’s the exact reason we hired a guy like TOB — to get us in a good spot to move on to the next guy.

Besides, if we don’t win eight games and end up in El Paso, then we can rest easy knowing none of that will matter when we’re in Atlanta on April 8th.

About LRM

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

'12 Football Tom O'Brien

49 Responses to November Looms

  1. charger17 10/29/2012 at 10:01 PM #

    Good thoughts, and I think the best part of this prediction is how our program needs to remain as attractive as possible. But, I think it’s just as realistic to understand we will never “turn the corner” dropping games to teams like UM and UNC. Still, 8 wins isn’t a step back, although I’m uneasy postponing so much of my expectations to b-ball season.

  2. quacko 10/29/2012 at 10:09 PM #

    LRM is gonna be pissed when he sees this and figures out someone hacked his login info

  3. Lumpy 10/29/2012 at 10:25 PM #

    Good post. All true. But if you really want to crawl into Statefan psyche:
    It’s not that we talked ourselves into believing we were genuinely the best team in the ACC. Anyone who saw the opener in Atlanta knew we weren’t a legit BCS team. But after the FSU win, we just hoped that we wouldn’t drop the ball against a team we should beat. And two weeks in a row we have played horrible down the stretch against teams we were better than. Maryland choked, UNC didn’t. We just never seem to take advantage of our upsets. If we had finished off UNC like we should have and gotten blown out at Clemson, I doubt you would see as many people hopping on the Fire TOB bandwagon. It’s the way we play so well on the big stage that drives us insane when we give it away on the small one.

  4. wolfwarrior 10/29/2012 at 10:28 PM #

    Ultimately, it’s the Kicking Game in some form, making or breaking State’s season.

  5. ruffles31 10/29/2012 at 10:30 PM #

    One thing to remember about the three losses this year. State was a touchdown underdog all 3 times. Not only did they not win, but they didn’t cover (although we all know that 2 TDs were given up in the last 20 seconds of the two losses).

    Good piece LRM (or whoever you may be).

  6. albunde6 10/29/2012 at 11:05 PM #

    Should this team win out, then yes it would be at the high point of what many predicted. However most thought our losses would come from Tenn., FSU, and Clemson.

    Losses to FSU and Clemson were expected. We hoped for “lightning in a bottle”, but what we got was a good flashlight in a jar. UNX loss make many other things unacceptable. I just about expect a WTF loss to Wake or BC, then a win at Clemson. It is what TOB does.

    I’m just tired of the roller coaster, not healthy at my age.

  7. saigonwolf 10/29/2012 at 11:29 PM #

    I had this written already to post on one of the previous threads, but didn’t get around to it. So I’ll post it here.

    Disclaimer: I am not a TOB apologist, and I’m not posting this to make a case for or against him. I don’t think this is the thread for that anyway. I am, however, trying to point out that we have a tremendous uphill battle to change the status quo related to the NC State football program.

    Hypothetically, you can take the “season pie” and slice it any way you want – we’re a 5-3 football team to this point.

    To break it down:
    Many of us felt we had a realistic chance to beat UT, so let’s say We beat them, so we’re 1-0.
    That means the next week, using our past history of not being able to handle success as a guide, we go up to Storrs and lay an egg, 1-1.
    Next two are gimmies, 3-1.
    Beat Miami, because we should have, 4-1.
    Can’t handle that success and lose to FSU, 4-2.
    Motivated by the FSU loss and beat UMd handily, 5-2.
    Now, many posters on the other threads talked about woulda, coulda, shoulda, TOB plays not to lose, etc… We were DESTINED to lose that game Saturday to Carolina. It was their freakin’ BOWL game. It’s all they looked forward to all year. It’s probably why they lost to Duke. No way in hell they were gonna lose that game. I felt it when they went up 15-0. The rest of the game was just a tease – we were gonna lose.

    So, here we are, 5-3. It could, of course, be worse. But probably no way it could be better. Is that TOB’s fault? Of course it is. But it is what it is for now.

    Let’s see what happens over the next 4 games. As many here have said, we’ll probably beat Clemson and lose one of the other 3. Or heaven forbid, lose to Clemson as well, and finish 7-5. Look at TOB’s overall record. Do the math. He’s a 7-5 coach. That’s what he was when he came here, and that’s still what he is. So we’ll finish out around 8-4, hopefully, which as LRM states, 3 or more consecutive 8+ win seasons hasn’t happened in nearly 40 years.

  8. PackerInRussia 10/30/2012 at 3:05 AM #

    I just want what every kid grows up dreaming about: a trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl.

  9. Texpack 10/30/2012 at 6:45 AM #

    We really should learn to accept our place in the CFB world.

    – Lee Fowler

  10. wolfonthehill 10/30/2012 at 7:02 AM #

    Record be damned. We have now played four good quarters of football THIS SEASON. (3rd/4th against F$U, 2nd/3rd against unc-ch). That’s unacceptable performance from a team that has enough talent to compete at a FAR higher level.

    In the end, this staff has shown zero ability to scheme, prepare, and motivate a team, week in and week out. Zero. After six years, I don’t need to wait for November to end to pass judgement on that.

  11. Wulfpack 10/30/2012 at 7:22 AM #

    Ready for hoops.

  12. Deacon Blues 10/30/2012 at 7:35 AM #

    LRM, I see the point. I just don’t like that the crux of your agrument is that there is no crux to the season. We will have a good season because we play bad teams. When we have already lost to two bad teams.

  13. albunde6 10/30/2012 at 7:37 AM #

    Are we without resources? Are we broke financially? Can we not afford a Top 25 coach? Do we need a state of N C State Football meeting of conference?

  14. albunde6 10/30/2012 at 7:49 AM #

    Option A, should we just look at football at State as a social event. Great opportunity to see old friends, great food, and college coeds wearing boots with a dress. The chance to enjoy the majesty of CF and the acres of asphalt. Listen to the soothing sounds of the jumbo tron.

    Or option b, “cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war”. Metaphorically, “kill them, kill them all I say”. Sorry let my depression turn to anger, the doctor has given me a pill for that.

    Do we just have a bad travel agent? Do we need a better travel strategy. Could we get a travel jumbo tron to follow the team?

    Lower expectations may the the key to football at State. I know we are “dealing with a lot of shit”.

  15. albunde6 10/30/2012 at 7:54 AM #

    Should we have lower expectations. 6-6 to 8-4 is really not that bad. A lot of schools would sign up today for 8-4 every year. I have said on numerous occasions, that as long as the 8 contains a win over UNX, then I am OK with TOB. However, with the show we put on this Saturday, TOB has lost his “get out of jail free card”.

    Edit: Sorry for the triple post, tried to clean it up!

  16. Khan 10/30/2012 at 8:47 AM #

    I didn’t get to watch the game, so I didn’t see the punt return at the end. But what is the reason UNC went for 2 after that TD?

    By the way, we all know what our ceiling is under this regime. We can either accept it and be happy or demand better. But to hope for a different outcome with the current staff is delusional and foolish.

  17. Trout 10/30/2012 at 9:16 AM #

    Decided to use 7 wins as the barometer instead of the 8 LRM mentioned. Including Holtz and going forward, here are the consecutive years of 7 wins or more for NC State football and the coaches and years it happened:

    You have to admit, if TOB wins 8 or more games, it will be something rarely done at NC State in a consecutive years period.

    Coach/Years Winning 7 or More:

    Holtz: 8,9,9,7 (’72-’75)

    Rein: 8,9,7 (’77-’79)

    Sheridan: 8,7,7,9,9 (’88-’92)

    MOC: 7,9 (’93-’94)

    Amato: 8,7,11,8 (2000-2003)

    TOB: 9,8,?? (2010-2012)

  18. Greywolf 10/30/2012 at 9:29 AM #

    Great write up. Just what this State fan needs to get ready for the UVA game. I like many would like to see us with better football records but it is what it is.

    There are some comments here that I often see on EVERY football thread over on the Forums site that I just don’t get the reasoning behind.

    1) “dropping games to teams like UM and UNC.”

    I hear from the same people who say this kind of thing how we are beaten in recruiting by UNC. How is it with ‘poor coaching’, ‘poor recruting,’ etc., we shouldn’t lose to UNC?

    2) “played horrible down the stretch against teams we were better than.”

    How is it with ‘poor coaching’, ‘poor recruting,’ etc., we are better than UNC and their 3, 4 & 5 star recruits?

    3) “That’s unacceptable performance from a team that has enough talent to compete at a FAR higher level.”

    How is it with 2-star recruits we have enough talent to compete at a FAR higher level?

  19. Wufpacker 10/30/2012 at 9:38 AM #

    “I just want what every kid grows up dreaming about: a trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl.”

    Thanks a lot PIR. This sent Mt. Dew thru my nose :D

  20. Hungwolf 10/30/2012 at 9:46 AM #

    Some Ga Tech and UVa fans might be say be careful what you wish for. They grew impatient with Chan Gailey and George Welsh. Look where they are now? I think it takes years to grow a program to the upper level. Look at Va. Tech they were in the Gailey and Welsh mode at one time but stuck with Beamer and raised the level of their program. I say first step is getting to a bowl game every year consistently which it appears we are headed in that direction. Think BC like to have TOB back, maybe they finally appreciating him now?

  21. PackerInRussia 10/30/2012 at 9:54 AM #

    ^^Anything for a fellow O’s fan.

  22. wolfbuff 10/30/2012 at 10:26 AM #

    Finally, some reasonable discussion. I went through all the same stages of grief as everyone else after Saturday, but honestly, it is pointless for anyone of sound mind to visit these sites for a couple of days.

    I agree that it takes much longer to build a football program than a basketball program. First, the playing field is not as level in football. The power schools will always win in the long run. Second, we have a much stronger heritage as a basketball school – and conference. Third, the cupboard was pretty bare when TOB got here. It takes years to develop depth. Finally, we are not a destination school for the next Bobby Bowden. Those kind of stars will always be shooting stars for programs like ours (though I think Sheridan would have stayed here). Enjoy them while they’re here. I’ve been a TOB critic of his baffling loyalty to his asst. coaches, play calling and stubbornness to change. But I admire the types of players he recruits and player development. And, yes, you have to start with a base of 8-9 wins a year in order to take the next step. You don’t go from 3 wins to consistently winning 10 in a couple of years. When TOB retires (and it will be when he’s ready unless the program falls apart), we’ll be in much better shape to attract an up and comer or someone like him who has 10 years left in him.

  23. wilmwolf80 10/30/2012 at 10:34 AM #

    Two of our three losses were heartbreaking last second collapses, so I think that makes them weight heavier on our minds. As much as I enjoy beating CH, that game didn’t make or break our season. How we respond to that disappointment will ultimately tell the tale of this season, and perhaps this coaching staff. My personal goals for the team are still attainable, more difficult to achieve yes, but attainable. I want to win the division. Period. Give ourselves a chance to play for the conference. That is a successful season as far as I am concerned. It is the next step up from the plateau of success we have had over the last decade, and should be our logical goal. I don’t care about BCS, national rankings, any of that. I just want to win the division and have a shot to play for the conference title. Anyone with expectations any grander than that is delusional. How it all plays out remains to be seen, but the sky has not yet fallen on Raleigh.

  24. Ed89 10/30/2012 at 10:36 AM #

    I don’t mind TOB as a program builder and administrator. I just wish he’d let someone else coach the fourth quarter of most every game…

  25. Deacon Blues 10/30/2012 at 11:06 AM #

    albunde6 – We were one of “a lot of schools that would sign up for 8-4 every year” 6 years ago. Now we have it and are bitching. I am not defending him just sending a reminder of the last of the CTC years. .

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