This is great stuff. This is fantastic stuff. Hopefully because of my relationship with Debbie Yow over the last decade plus, I have a more detailed perspective than just about anybody in the media down here. I think it’s an absolutely, positively, overwelmingly great hire for NC State.
You are talking about one of the smartest people I have met in 20 plus years of covering college athletics….one of the most influential people I have encountered in 20 plus years of covering college athletics…and maybe, most importantly, somebody that when a university is in desperation mode they turned to Debbie Yow and she got it done at Maryland. When the conference was in desperation mode and needed television money and they looked around the room, they turned to Debbie Yow and she got it done.
So you can talk about fractured relationships with Gary Williams and the Maryland fan base and there are some valid criticisms as well. But anyone who is starting from a point that this is an incompetent hire or a bad idea has absolutely, positively no clue about how college athletics works.
For another take on Yow, here is what John Feinstein wrote in his latest column:
Her downfall—and believe me she’s getting out of town ahead of the posse here with a new president taking over the school on September 1—came when she thought she saw an opening to get rid of Williams in 2009 and the notion blew up in her face. The basketball program was struggling and Williams made the mistake of taking a frustrated public swipe at Yow when asked about some recruiting efforts that hadn’t panned out. Yow saw an opening and tried to pounce only to find that most Maryland people remembered what Williams had done to rebuild a fallen program into a national champion and also believed he could still coach.
Williams’ players rallied behind him to make the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and then had a very good year in 2010. Yow was forced to retreat. She even went so far as to “nominate,” Williams for the basketball Hall of Fame last month, an absolute grandstand play if there’s ever been one. Debbie Yow nominating Gary Williams for the Hall of Fame is the equivalent of Tiger Woods nominating me for The Pulitzer Prize. No one bought that act—especially Williams, who was as close to speechless as he ever gets when the subject came up.
There was also the botched attempt to get rid of Friedgen last fall. After failing to raise the money from boosters to buy Friedgen out, Yow let it leak that perhaps the money could come from state funds—an idea quickly shot down by Governor Martin O’Malley. So, she looked bad again and looked even worse because she had committed $1 million to James Franklin as the coach-in-waiting when no one on earth could see any reason to anoint Franklin.