With two minutes and forty seconds remaining in Saturday’s Carolina-Maryland game, ESPN sideline reporter, Doris Burke, conducted a quick sideline report with NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett. It took less than 30 seconds. Nothing to it.
If you are familiar with my writings/beliefs from other websites through the years, then you know that I (along with many Wolfpackers) hold Coach Barnes’ successes through the years in extremely high regard. (We will hold off on the “Rick Barnes Conversation” today). Of course, as Burke mentioned Coach Barnes, I immediately had the uncontrollable thought of “What if?” that I have almost every time Barnes’ is mentioned around me.
No problem right? Nothing different than any other time that I hear Barnes mentioned on national broadcasts. (For the record, Barnes’ name was mentioned on three different occasions during the national broadcast and Herb Sendek’s name was never mentioned. Barnes coaches 1,500 miles away in Austin, TX and Sendek coaches 20 miles away in the same conference that Carolina and Maryland participate).
However, the pain didn’t end there. Succeeding in bridging the NASCAR-Basketball-North Carolina angle, Brad Nessler then commented:
“Other than Duke and Carolina basketball around here…and Wake…Tobacco Road in general, (NASCAR) would be the biggest thing”
I can’t make this stuff up…and, I can’t blame the unaffiliated and objective Nessler for sharing the same perspective that the large majority of the country shares in his omission of NC State Basketball.
On the surface, Nessler’s omission of specifically referring to NC State in his discussion of Tobacco Road isn’t/shouldn’t be that big of a deal. I can certainly understand someone who would want to paint me as hyper-sensitive for noticing it. Nevertheless, I am not one that looks to blame others’ mistakes for my shortcomings. I do not look to rationalize events as extraordinary in attempts to make myself feel better about something. Nessler forgot us. Period. Would he ever forget Duke, Carolina or Wake? Obviously not.
Put quite brutally — After NINE YEARS of opportunity to re-establish NC State as a meaningful participant in the college basketball landscape, Herb Sendek hasn’t even made enough of an impact to pop in the mind of ESPN’s lead college basketball play-by-play commentator when he was discussing a topic that directly related to NC State as he sat 20 miles from our campus.
Additionally, Dick Vitale sat in silence during Nessler’s comments as he also completely overlooked the Wolfpack. And, please don’t try to tell me that Vitale was thinking of the Pack and just didn’t say anything. When was the last time Vitale didn’t say something on the air that he was thinking? Especially after Vitale had previously mentioned Jim Valvano in the broadcast. (I will omit the next obvious point that I could make here…)
In my opinion, Nessler’s omission of NC State in his comments about basketball and Tobacco Road was the purest form of insult that he could have hurled at Herb Sendek and the NC State basketball program. Nessler’s comments were genuine and were spoken in a natural, unscripted train of thought. He wasn’t reading copy and didn’t have the luxury of preparing his comments. Nessler’s omission highlighted that NC State simply has not done enough to merit a place in the mind of the national media.
When I say that NC State hasn’t done enough to merit a place in his mind…I am NOT criticizing our rabid fan-base. Wolfpack fans have more than done their part to indicate that we “love our basketball on par with our NASCAR.” NC State’s basketball attendance ranked 12th in the country last season, up from a strong #19 the previous season and, in the process, averaged more per game than both Wake Forest and Duke in each season. Wolfpack fans have sold out season ticket packages in the 19,722 RBC Center all six years of the arena’s existence and have again sold out every regular season ACC game prior to the season began.
Despite the heroic efforts of Wolfpack fans, it is obviously apparent that our program continues to be an after thought in the conscious and subconscious minds of the national media. It’s really no surprise when consider that we’ve win a total of two NCAA Tournament games in the last 9 years under a coach that is not known for attracting large amounts of attention off the court. The big surprise is how so many fans laughably think that NC State is still significantly relevant outside of the boundaries of West Raleigh.