If you aren’t a very close follower of NC State’s football program, you probably would not be aware that the Wolfpack is in the middle of 2005 Spring practice. The reason that you wouldn’t be aware is because there is very little information in the public domain and coverage by the media regarding practice.
A quick peak at the front page of GoPack.com and you see stories about surplus equipment sales and student athletes’ volunteer efforts. Pack Pride and GoPack.com ran a news release this weekend that detailed a scrimmage highlighting a strong performance by running back, Bobby Washington.
Many Wolfpackers are frustrated by the lack of information that they are getting from spring practice. For example, this Premium thread chronicles a discussion about the lack of information about State’s spring practice and includes complaints like, “I think to a lot of people this has been a major disappointment. NCSU football and the excitement that goes along with it is at an all-time high. Fans are itching for anything they can get out of the practices. Fans can’t wait for the season to start after that bitter taste left in their mouth following the 2004 season. “
State has a brand new offensive coordinator who is implementing an offensive system. Note that I did not say what kind of offensive system. I do not know what kind of offensive system because there has been no reports from practice. I would think that this is the point of the enhanced media blackout.
One of our biggest games of the year is the first game of the season against Virginia Tech. Amato and Company are sitting on a HUGE competitive advantage since we have a COMPLETE element of surprise working in our favor.
What if we come out and run the ball 60 times against VPI?
What if Daniel Evans is our starting quarterback and they are working on an offense to throw the ball 75% of the time?
What if we choose to pooch punt on every play on offense and allow our defense to score all of our points so that we don’t turn the ball over? (God willing that JJ Jones isn’t on the field and that we don’t find a way to get penalized on all of our pooch punts!!)
I ask…is it really prudent to share with the world that we are implementing and fine tuning this off-season? Is our existing competitive advantage really not worth keeping just so some of us fans can hear a lot of preliminary information to integrate into our summer season of speculation? I don’t think so. I’m more than willing “not to know” what running back is looking the best and what Marc Trestman is thinking if it means that we have a better chance of starting the season strong.
Despite the perspective of some fans, I don’t think that the issue is “Chuck Amato” issue at all. If it is a Chuck issue, then the same people complaining better be raking Herb Sendek through the coals during his NCAA-regulated off-season personal workouts with the basketball players about which we have never seen a single news release
In nine years of coaching, how many times has Herb Sendek opened his practices or allowed folks into his off-season workouts? Heck, John Feinstein wrote a book named “March to Madness” that chronicled every ACC team throughout a season and, despite an awesome opportunity to market his new program and earn at least equal billing with the other ACC teams in the book, Herb Sendek was one of only two ACC coaches who refused to grant Feinstein the same access that the other coaches granted.
At least Amato respects the fan base enough to speak plainly and bluntly with us, even if we don’t like what he has to say sometimes. When Amato apologizes to fans for poor performances during his press conferences or coach’s show, I appreciate being made to feel such an important part of the program that I supported before he got here, and that I will support long after he leaves.
To me the issue of closed practices and sharing detailed information in the public domain is more of a strategic issue than one of fan appreciation. Every situation is a little different, and the addition of a new offensive coordinator prior to this particular season merits the ultimate prudence.
Wanting Your Cake and Eating it, too
Just because I choose to support the current media and information blackout does not mean that I blindly agree with ALL of Amato’s perspectives on the ancillary issues related to the media. Amato’s relationships with the media can be described as “interesting” at best; and I think that Chuck could do himself a service with the media and the fans to strive create more consistency between his actions and his words.
Amato frequently complains about the quality and the amount of the media’s coverage of ACC Football, especially within the boarders of the state of North Carolina. As much as I may agree with his perspective on this (particularly in the off-season), I think that his policy of keeping the media so far away from his program in the off-season negatively impacts the strength of his position on this topic.
You’ve got to pick and choose your battles. If your own personal self-interest is served more by keeping the media out of your program, then so be it. But, if you choose that route, then you largely relinquish the right to complain about a lack of coverage in which you are not willing to play a significant role in enhancing. I fear this issue creates a risky situation where Coach Amato’s credibility could be diminishing with the very media that he does not want working against him.
Spring Game Attendance
One thing is for sure…along with Everett Case and Jim Valvano, Chuck Amato is one of the best marketers that NC State University Athletics has ever employed. With this year’s spring game coming up this weekend, is there any doubt that NC State will set a record for attendance?
The man is amazingly innovative and finds a way to get results. You’ll see that this weekend when the crowd flows into Carter-Finley Stadium.