It is Rick Barnes vs John Calipari. A match-up of two premier coaches that NC State could have hired multiple times since 1995. A match-up designed to highligh Lee Fowler’s incompetence as the two primary coaches on which Fowler should have been able close the deal two years ago match-up for the right to head to San Antonio next week for the Final Four.
Personally, I’m pulling for Barnes in this match-up because of (1) his ties to North Carolina; (2) his ties to Clemson and the ACC; (3) the fact that I lived in Houston for four years; and (4) the dignified manner in which he behaved (relative to Calipari) during his conversations with NC State two years ago. But, I think this game sets up very well for Memphis and would take the Tigers if I were betting the money line in Las Vegas (even though I advanced Texas on my bracket at the beginning of the tournament).
This is probably the perfect spot for us to spill some more beans on the 2005 coaching search, but (un)fortunately our time is limited. For your own fun, we suggest that you play in our archives for items that may be of interest to you…and, maybe later in the week we will find some time for some insight into what happened behind the scenes two years ago.
This Final Four is already shaping up as a nightmare for Lee Fowler as it represents countless lessons on how to be proactive and successfully manage your program with UNC-CH and UCLA, both of whom fired their previous coaches who had compiled records and momentum that Fowler would have killed for during the Sendek era (Doherty & Lavin), already punching their tickets.