Well, we only have about 5 hours left in 2010, at least in NC State’s (and my) home time zone. This isn’t going to be a long “recap” post, but I do think we should spend a few moments reflecting on the first steps we took towards ending our 2+ decades of wandering in the sports desert.
This spring, Randy Woodson became Chancellor. Although I had some initial skepticism (lifelong Wolfpack fandom will do that), I warmed rapidly to the idea. The more I heard from “behind the scenes,” the more satisfied I became. And he finally helped orchestrate the end of an era that has lasted far too long.
Yes, our bumbling, loud-mouthed, ignorant, incompetent, brand-damaging Athletic Director was finally pushed out. Despite the typical lamentations of certain lazy media members and associates at rival schools (who enjoyed looking great by comparison), the market spoke. Fowler couldn’t find ANY work as an AD, even at a rung or two lower on the food chain. Trust the market – as it turns out the supply of unsuitable dunces is high, while demand for their services is low.
After a refreshingly quiet, leak-resistant search, NC State hired Debbie Yow away from Maryland. This time, I was even more skeptical at first, worrying that the “old boy” network wanted someone with “family” ties. But nothing could have been farther from the truth. Woodson liked her tough as nails, “no excuses” management style – and that she shared his goals (important note – not “hopes” or “wishes”) of elevating NC State to greatness. Every piece of private and public feedback I received was positive. 100 percent. Then, I received word that Dr. Yow put Tom O’Brien and Sidney Lowe on the clock this summer. For success instead of nebulous “improvement.” That made me almost giddy with excitement.
And in 2010, Tom O’Brien decided he wasn’t ready to get off the pot – so he shat out a 9-4 season, complete with a winning ACC record, a 4th straight win over our pals from Cheater Hill, and a sound thumping of a ranked West Virginia squad that felt it deserved a higher caliber bowl opponent. LMAO. I also never heard one word regarding TOB grumbling about the pressure, or pre-emptive excuse making. I’m looking forward to 2011 and 2012, with cautious optimism of at least one Atlantic Division title – and perhaps even our first conference crown since I was 6 years old.
Somewhat overshadowed by the football program’s rare November relevance – but nonetheless extremely important – Debbie Yow also put men’s soccer “coach” (or piece of lawn furniture, depending on your perspective) George Tarantini out to pasture. Although this move should have happened at least ten years ago – hey, better late than never. And it would have been “never” under Fowler’s “leadership.” That’s one laughingstock program that can’t help but improve, with a more driven and successful new coach. Who knows, perhaps Coach Findley is chummy with Brad Stevens from their days at Butler…
That brings me to men’s basketball, which has sucked (or been mediocre) for many, many years – and remains sucky. But 2010 was good for hoops, as well. Because we now have an AD who isn’t afraid to make personnel moves, and put her own stamp on our second most important sports program (football does and will always pay the bills). Plus, Lowe has shown enough that I am 99.999999% confident that Yow is already working out a search plan. Fowler would have given at least two loud, unequivocal votes of confidence by now.
Don’t be complacent – this is just the start of NC State athletics’ journey back to relevance (and then hopefully, greatness). But 2010 at least laid a solid foundation. Let’s hope 2011 brings considerable more progress toward Woodson’s and Yow’s goals.
Happy New Year to each and every loyal SFN reader and commenter! Yes, even the lurking Holes…