The rumor mill heated up fast and red-hot this morning with whispers that NC State head coach Sidney Lowe would be relieved of his duties sometime today. It looks as though those rumors are false.
According to NC State Athletic Director Lee Fowler, in an article by ESPN’s Andy Katz:
“It started in the coaching circles. I’ve had to tell [signee] Ryan Harrow’s mother three times this year that there is nothing to worry about.”
Katz posits that the rumors are part of negative recruiting, which indeed may be the case, considering that prized prospect, former NC State commitment and still undecided CJ Leslie has stated that he plans to make his college decision known in a little more than a week. Or, perhaps, this may be a coach or coaches trying to poison the well for Sidney Lowe when it comes to a potential member of 2011 recruits, with the timing coming at the beginning of the off-season AAU circuits not far down the road.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt – or FUD, for short – is a tried-and-true disinformation tactic that has worked all too well in the past in industries ranging from computer software to college basketball, not to mention everything else in between. That said, Katz may well be correct that today’s rumor was the result of negative recruiting by someone. And while Katz doesn’t name names, it is interesting to note that CJ Leslie was visited here in Raleigh yesterday by Kentucky head coach John Calipari – a man well known for his hard-nosed recruiting style that is right on the edge of NCAA rules and some say common decency.
Or Hard Nose Negotiating?
Another theory is that perhaps Wake Forest is making a move on Texas Head Coach Rick Barnes, and that someone in Barnes camp is attempting to gain contract leverage for the NC native in any negotiations with the Demon Deacons. If Barnes was being sought by two Big Four ACC schools, he would clearly have the upper hand in negotiations with either school, and the bidding would almost certainly run very high for his signature on a coaching contract. Almost as good is the perception that there would be two Big Four schools interested in him…with an unsaid idea cast in Wake’s direction being “you better get him while you can, because NC State will be coming into play soon.”
Take your pick, or take none of the above but the bottom line is that either way, it looks like today’s rumor concerning Sidney Lowe was much ado about nothing.
Lowe Feels Upbeat
Lowe, for his part, had this to say to Andy Katz:
Lowe and top assistant Monte Towe said they’ve been deflecting the rumors for days.
“I’m feeling good and feeling as well as I’ve felt in a while and to hear this stuff is just disappointing,” Lowe said. “Credible coaches are saying it’s out there. We’re returning a lot, have won 20 games for the second time here and finished strong. We’re looking pretty good.’’
The timing for NC State is good too with the situations at Wake Forest, Clemson and Boston College in flux after all three had coaching changes.
“We feel like we have a chance to move up,” Lowe said. “We’re feeling really good about our situation.”
Lowe sounds as if he is speaking from a comfortable position, and he probably is comfortable, knowing that his job is secure for next season.
But Lee Fowler Just HAS To Talk About….Lee Fowler
Another interesting aspect of Katz’ article is that Lee Fowler used Katz’ conversation with him as a launching point to address his house being on the market:
“They’ve had me fired about seven times, too,” Fowler said. “I put my house on the market because our house is 4200 square feet and our kids are out of the house. That created a firestorm and yet we have a new chancellor here on Monday and there’s been no discussion about me.”
That I have a hard time believing, given the constant and consistent swell of rumors surrounding Lee Fowler. A flash-fire rumor is one thing, and those can take on the nature of the children’s game of “telephone” where things are twisted out of control quickly. A slow stream of rumors from people who ask not to be quoted directly and that anything they say be taken as background information is another, and those are the sorts of rumors that have been surrounding Fowler for months. In that case, indeed, there are discussions — perhaps not official ones, but discussions nonetheless — about the state of athletics leadership at NC State and the consistently declining standing overall of State’s athletics program.
In any case, a man who has had ten years to build an athletics program that has resulted in a current ranking of 99th in the Directors Cup standings – 65th ranking out of 66 BCS schools – should never feel secure in his job, ever. If Lee Fowler is secure in his leadership role, that probably speaks more about the university than it does him. It’s difficult to believe that an institution that requires and demands excellence from its students and faculty to not require it in any form from the leader of its athletics programs.