The UNC-Chapel Hill coaching search has the potential to be very interesting. It also has the potential to be very boring. Regardless of the amount of public fireworks that the search creates, NC State fans need to be very clear on the fact that Carolina’s search for a football coach is extremely relevant to Chuck Amato and NC State’s football program.
I saw a quote on an NC State message board yesterday that made one of those matter-of-fact, overly-confident, sound-byte-like statement that went something like, “We don’t need to worry about Carolina. We need to worry about Florida State and Virginia Tech. We compete with these programs for where we want to be.”
I just couldn’t believe the supidity. How the hell are we supposed to try to compete with the top programs in the ACC and country without top players? How does someone who can type not inherently understand this from the beginning? The better Carolina’s coach, then the better Carolina’s program becomes. The better Carolina’s program, then the more talent they can lure and the more effective that their talent will be used on the field. It isn’t really rocket science.
The barriers to success faced by local football programs are large enough on their own without adding a better coach to the mix. These issues have been well chronicled in the past – there just aren’t enough local players available to support our programs; so, the better the alternative programs become, the more difficult State’s mission of winning becomes. Dave Glenn’s research shows:
Here’s the breakdown of how many Division I-A signees the traditional ACC states produce on an annual basis, relative to the number of I-A programs in the state: Georgia 75 (150 signees, two teams) prospects per school, Florida 50 (350/7), Virginia 25 (50/2), Maryland 20 (40/2), South Carolina 20 (40/2), North Carolina 12 (60/5). Here’s the breakdown when you limit the same numbers to only BCS-conference teams: Florida 87 (350/4) per school, Georgia 75 (150/2), Maryland 40 (40/1), Virginia 25 (50/2), South Carolina 20 (40/2), North Carolina 15 (60/4).
Think about it this way — if Carolina was coached by someone other than Carl Torbush and John Bunting the last nine years, then there is chance that players like Levar Fisher, Bryan Peterson, Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, AJ Davis, Scott Kooistra, Sean Locklear, TA McLendon, Tank Tyler, Toney Baker, Andre Brown, Leroy Harris, Curtis Crouch and dozens of others could have never worn an NC State uniform. Exactly how is NC State supposed to compete with FSU and VPI…or anyone for that matter…without that caliber of player?
I was going to more develop these thoughts more deeply here today, but as I was surfing the internet this morning I saw where the Red & White From State had done such an excellent job developing the points that it makes much more sense for me to direct you to their great comments.
NC State fans should be watching the events unfolding within the Carolina football program closely. Not only could the fortunes of UNC football drastically change with the right new coach, but it could also affect the Wolfpack too, and in some unpleasant ways.
By any measure, the Wolfpack has been a mediocre football program since the graduation of Philip Rivers. State has gone an unremarkable 15-15 in that time, with an ACC record of eight wins against twelve losses.* Several of the wins Amato has posted were against inferior 1-AA or non-BCS competition, which effectively should remove those victories from serious consideration when pondering the arc of the Amato-led program. In short, a program once labeled as “on the rise�? has not only stopped rising, it is clearly treading water in the record books.
So what does UNC have to do with any of this? Aside from contributing two of those losses in the post-Rivers era, UNC is also a close neighbor school that often competes for the same players as does NC State. Division 1 college football, more than any of the major college sports, relies on in-state or regional talent as its lifeblood. Only certain schools can recruit nationally, and those schools are the elite in the game: Notre Dame, Southern Cal, a few others. For the NC States and the UNCs of the world, they live and die by the commitments they gain from players who grew up relatively near the schools. That in mind, a coaching change at UNC can indeed affect NC State’s fortunes, which in the post-Rivers era are markedly spotty at best.
State is, of course, an excellent choice in its own right and offers many of the same positives that UNC does. It also has one thing that Carolina cannot currently offer, and that is a large amount of fan support for the football program. Amato does (and should) proudly point to the people in grandstands as being largely responsible for many of the enhancements the stadium has undergone the past five years. They put their money where their mouths are, and bought into the dream of a first-class football program – to the tune of perhaps $25,000,000, collectively. Those fans show up every week and display and incredible amount of very loud passion for their team. Some may say that Wolfpack fans are over-demanding, but the reality of that is that State’s fans want best efforts and are loathe to settle for anything less. Amato can and should point that out to high schoolers, and they can see this for themselves in Raleigh on official visits.
Just for the reason of recruiting alone, it’s going to get very interesting around here soon, and what happens in Chapel Hill may go a long way to determining what happens here in Raleigh. So keep your eye on what goes on in Chapel Hill.
Please keep this entry in mind when you log onto SFN in the future and see us talking about Carolina a little more than we have in the past.
I will leave you with a related entry from 850TheBuzz’ titled Strange Days in Chapel Hill. The article is a hub for some of the best, relevant links out there today.