Brock’s Take: Not Over, but Disappearing Fast

Personal Note:
So sorry that I’ve been so lax in blogging recently. I’ve had a TON of huge life changes (personal and professional) hit over the last month. Ultimately, the changes will be fantastic for me and my family…but, in the short term they have kept me from venting my frustrations here on the blog.

Additionally, I (currently) live in a coastal suburb only 15 miles from Galveston, Texas. It’s been just a little crazy around here recently. The good news for my family is that we escaped Rita amongst the lucky ones. Also, we were able to get to the airport just hours before the horrible traffic jams started clogging Houston highways.

The bad news for us is that we “got out” on a flight to North Carolina to attend the football game this weekend. That sucked…along with the other financial & personal commitments that we have made over the last 24 months to travel to attend the following losses: Va Tech (05), UNC (04), Miami (04), GT (04), FSU (04), OSU (04), Maryland (03), OSU (03).

“It ain’t over yet….but it is disappearing fast.”

…friend of mine who believed (before Carolina) that NC State would win the Atlantic Division.

Does this quote refer to NC State’s 2005 Football Season or the Wolfpack community’s support for Chuck Amato? Unfortunately, probably a little bit of both. BUT, neither is totally dead quite yet.

I think this quote succintly sets the current situation of Wolfpack football — we have the talent, we have shown some ability, and we have the bulk of our schedule and opportunities to prove ourselves ahead of us. BUT, based on the underperformance of the 2003 season and based on the horrible performance of the 2004 season – what tangible reasons actually exist for State fans to have faith that better performance lies ahead of us?

Set the Stage
I think that most Wolfpackers came into this season with a very similar perspective as I had:

– The first 3 years of the Amato era were better than should have been expected and much appreciated. We had some execution and X/O issues that were obvious, but these were more than mitigated by nice overall results, strong recruiting, and the national attention the program garnered.

– The 2003 season should have been much better, but it ended well. In light of where the program had come from, it would seem overly demanding to complain. Let’s utilize the talent in the program that has been built over the previous four years to take the next step.

– 2004 was unacceptable moreso because of how the record was compiled than simply finished 5-6. The fanbase, however, did not revolt and was optimistic about the 2005 season.

Don’t be premature…
I’ve seen many fans on message boards calling for Coach Amato to be fired. Worse yet, too many fans choose to apply their own extreme interpretation that honest assessment and fair criticism equals a call for removal. I caution everyone to realize that just because someone offers critical analysis does not mean that person endorses a firing of anyone (at this point).

IMHO, any call for such extreme reactions at this point are premature. Although I think that BJD’s perspective of “Chuck Must Go” currently may be a tad strong… I cannot help but fear that in 3 months his perspective has more of a chance to be right than not. I am just not ready to commit to pulling the cord on Amato with 8 games remaining this season. (Of course, any call for a firing by a fan ineherently assumes that the change would be made at the end of the season. Regardless, I don’t want to predict the amount doom for the rest of this season that would warrant such a move.)

…but, don’t be blind
If you forced me to commit to something, I feel more comfortable supporting the premise that we may be experiencing the “The Beginning of the End”. However, I don’t think that it is prudent to call for firings at the “Beginning” of the end. In fact, if NC State’s football program continues to unwind and a coaching change is ultimately made in Raleigh, I don’t believe that Saturday’s game will have been the beginning of the end — that could potentially be traced much farther back. Regardless, Saturday’s fiasco may ultimately be the beginning of the end for the mainstream, average fan.

CTC Surprised?
I’ve heard through the grapevine that Coach Amato is perplexed and surprised by the recent outcry of frustration by Wolfpack Nation. Instead of being surprised at the current state of affairs, Chuck needs to be thankful that the frustration hasn’t boiled over before now.

In hindsight, the fan base should have been much more critical during and at the end of last season. When you add last season’s embarassing penalty and turnover problems to the significant amount of 4th quarter collapses and failed comebacks that this talented program has experienced over the last 3 years, you wonder how Amato avoided more criticism until now.

Amato has actually enjoyed the LUXURY of a tolerant fan base who was giving him deserved credit for previous successes while his talent-rich program has been significantly underperforming others. At the same time, he has been asking – at times demanding – fans to have blind faith in him by committing millions of dollars to his program and to facilities. In turn, he refers to fans as “you people” and criticizes those that commit thousands of dollars and significant personal time if they don’t turn out in droves for the “Walk of Champions” or if they wonder why our boys can’t shut the hell up on the field and simply execute like what should be expected of a high school program.

The Problems
I think that you have to be a moron to ignore that things are currently very bad inside of our football program. There are A LOT of different reasons why the program is plagued with so many problems — excessive coaching turnover, lack of discipline manifested in turnovers and penalties, late game collapses, horrendous game strategies, even worse clock management, inability to make comebacks, weak special teams performances since Joe Pate left, spotty offensive line recruiting and play, inconsistent quarterbacking and more.

None of these problems are new — this is why they are such BIG problems. In one form or another, most of these problems have existed for years; this is why NC State fans are now turning restless. We’ve seen these problems impact our performance for years, and therefore we have little faith that they will be corrected and lead to actual victories on the field.

I think that anyone who takes a detailed look at the history of the NC State football program with facts and figures as well as intangible items would conclude that our overall program may have never been in a better position. By the same token, our overall program cannot take the necessary steps forward until many of the continuously repeated mistakes are corrected.

IF THINGS CONTINUE ON THE CURRENT PATH that has existed the last 3 years…then important conversations and hard assessments will obviously need to be had at the end of this year. But, there are 8 opportunities remaining against legitimately tough competition that can set this program back on the right course.

I’d much rather be facing this schedule with the talent that exists in our program today than what existed in it pre-Amato. “It ain’t over yet….but it is disappearing fast.”

General NCS Football

16 Responses to Brock’s Take: Not Over, but Disappearing Fast

  1. newswolf 09/29/2005 at 12:58 PM #

    agree with all of the above

  2. Cyrus 09/29/2005 at 2:17 PM #

    I agree with all the above as well. The football team has broken my heart several times, but never as badly as they did this past Saturday. Chuck needs to churn out some big wins the rest of this season and make a real run at winning the division. As dejected as I am right now, I can’t give up just yet.

  3. lumberpack 09/29/2005 at 3:36 PM #

    I hope it can be turned around-it’s amazing that Chuck would be suprised. One note: clock mis-management was a hallmark of Tom Reed – I remember he lost his first ECU game that way.

  4. BJD95 09/29/2005 at 4:21 PM #

    I agree as well – Jeff of course, had the logistical issues/foresight to hold off on his post until several days after the football equivalent of (what I believe what will one day be viewed as) Chuck’s Waterloo. For the more discerning and/or fatalistic (and what long-ime Wolfpacker isn’t fatalistic?) fan, you had a kind of queasy feeling that something bad was about to happen, and had been noticing the negative trendlines from 2003 and 2004. But for the common, ordinary fan – I think Saturday was the “beginning of the end,” as Jeff rightly clarified above. or, more specifically, I think it was the exact moment at which Chuck entered the dreaded “death spiral,” into which many coaches enter, and only a very few emerge.

    I also probably should have added a caveat to my “CHUCK MUST GO” – unless there is a significant, dramatic turnaround in our team’s discipline, attitude, and performance. To me, that would mean winning at least 6 – and probably 7 – of our remaining 8 regular season games. Based on what I have seen both this season and in recent history, I simply don’t see how that happens. Not after watching our thoroughbreds get completely outplayed and outcoached by John Bunting and crew, AT HOME AFTER A PRE-GAME SHOVING MATCH. As unsettled as I was after watching us blow the VT game, I couldn’t have imagined Saturday unfolding as it did in my worst nightmares. I thought that UNC would have to play a perfect game AND get help from us to win, and if that happened, they would have won by 20+. Simply astounding.

    Anyway, I hope that everyone has found the conversations of this week as interesting as I have. I definitely don’t think it’s too early to have these discussions – things are quite urgent, and I think Amato should be feeling the pressure from the fans. If he’s really surprised, then that means he needed some cold water splashed on his face even more than I thought he did.

    We also much remember that football is far more unforgiving than basketball – you can’t recover and just float up around the .500 mark in conference play, then redeem yourself come tournament time. Thus, the redemption has to begin IMMEDIATELY, and it needs to be dramatic. I’m not optimistic at all, but would love to be proven wrong.

  5. RegularUnleaded 09/29/2005 at 4:57 PM #

    I haven’t been this disgusted with a coach since Monty Kiffen tried that on sides kick in the first half against UNC 25 years ago.

  6. FamilyGuy 09/29/2005 at 5:49 PM #

    ^ you must not have been in Charlotte for any of our MOC games vs Carolina or ECU

  7. lumberpack 09/29/2005 at 6:40 PM #

    It bothers me that for nearly a decade, we have had a planned altercation in our stadium prior
    to the carolina game – planned by the UNC staff and players, it started with Torbush and has continued-why was this not anticipated this time around?

  8. newswolf 09/29/2005 at 8:49 PM #

    ^what would you have done differently? how did you know it was planned?

  9. Cardiac95 09/29/2005 at 8:52 PM #

    Agree w/ JB…I think the fan’s tolerance in the off-season was connected to the departure of Noel Mazzone and the
    signing of Toney Baker/recruiting in general…at least that was the case with me. That gave me personally just
    enough reason for hope this season.

    Regarding the coaching turnover…I remember thinking (& posting) in the ’02 offseason, that the loss of Gailbrath & Canales would be a significant turning point for the program. Hard to lose your OC & the heir-apparent at OC, not to mention your QB & O-line coaches, & keep the program moving in stride. Rivers did an amazing job of covering the mess in ’03, but our sad lack of preparation at QB couldn’t be denied in ’04. Cignetti as QB Coach was a joke.

    Of course, the coaching turnover in general has developed into a now very tangible problem with a lack of cohesiveness among the staff & a general lack of discipline among the players. Funny thing is that coaching turnover was probably the first visible “red flag” with Amato’s program (Chow, Green, D-Line coach whose name escapes me leaving within the first 2-3 seasons).

    Now, here’s the good news….I think we may have already taken the first steps to the coaching stability problem in hiring & signing both Trestman & Dunlap to long term deals. Clearly, Trestman is not the magician that Chow was, but I believe in his potential to develop consistently good/great offenses. More than anything, his prowess at QB coach may provide the quicker solution to our ills than anything he does scheme-wise as OC. Dunlap….its hard to say much at this point, but the D we showed in the Va Tech game was formidable. Any let down against unc was, IMO, more a discipline thing than a scheme thing.

    At the end of the season, we may need to seriously look at our other assistents & cull any further dead-wood that may have accumulated since the original staff was hired.

    I guess my overall prognosis is that our Admin will absolutely NEVER fire the guy for anything short of infractions or scandals….so I’m pinning all my hopes on Amato having the vision to put together a staff that can complement his own personal weaknesses (something the original staff did quite well, imo). As to this season….I see 6 wins in the regular season…a blue field in Idaho…..and Lee Fowler shouting “progress” into every microphone he can find.

  10. Lumberpack 09/29/2005 at 10:38 PM #

    Newswolf, if you recall it started when MOC was head coach and a Carolina coach started an altercation
    in 95/96. It resulted in having one of our guys ejected from the game and a weak response from MOC.
    It happened two years ago and two years prior to that and it’s done to attract the officials to our
    players-coincidence that it only happens in Raleigh, coincidence that it has happened in Raleigh every year the game has been played here for the last decade-you know not.

    As to what you do, you use the NCSU University Police to stand around the UNC players and coaches every time they come within 20 yards of our guys, you make our kids aware of what tricks they pull, you write a letter to the league office and officials about it prior to the game and you remind the media about it prior to the game so that the microscope is on them.

    It’s been a damn effective tactic against us.

  11. Alpha Wolf 09/30/2005 at 7:43 AM #

    I agree with lumberpack. I too think that this was “planned” and I for one put as much stock in the Lord’s Prayer Excuse as a Death Row Conversion.

    The officials should have penalized UNC to start the game. NCAA rules specifically deal with a team’s players going onto the opponents side of the field during warmups. I don’t care if they were praying or stuffing dollars into the UNC cheerleaders panties, they had absolutely no right or reason to be on the NCSU side of the field.

    That said, you have to consider why Bunting did nothing about this. That, in my mind anyway, is the proof in the pudding. He knew what his charges were up to, he did nothing about it, and that is tacit approval.

    Then, of course, make it out to be the Wolfpack players’ faults for getting riled up about it. Claim it was a prayer. Sure, right. There are a few thousand square feet on the other end of the field, pray there. Meanwhile, here’s penalty to start the game.

    Why those shenanigans went unpunished deserves an explanation from Tommy Hunt.

  12. DC Wolf 09/30/2005 at 11:03 AM #

    One thing that Jeff touched on, that’s been overlooked by most fans is special teams. Since Diaz took over, they haven’t been quite as special have they? I think he may be in over his head.

  13. Alpha Wolf 09/30/2005 at 3:34 PM #

    Actually, I have complained long and loud about Diaz on the Pack Pride forums from time to time.

    We used to do a much better job of kick coverage, now we do absolutely moronic stuff like kick to Devon Hester to start a game and go down 7-0 with less than 15 seconds off of the clock.

    If Deraney didn’t kick unreturnable balls about 2/3 of the time, we would be in bad shape.

    Diaz and Williams — yes-men coaches IMO.

  14. grantwolf 10/06/2005 at 2:13 PM #

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Chuck needs to “walk the walk”. Simple as that.

  15. Mike 10/17/2005 at 6:23 PM #

    It is quite simple. Anyone who knows football knows the problems. Chuck and his staff of the season are fooling us all and laughing all the way to the bank. Trestman as OC? Give me a break. One would think the ESPN crew is being paid to praise Trestman. “Trestman has been in the NFL for 22 years, what a great steal for NC State to get him”. He has been with 10 teams in 22 years because the NFL teams run him out of town. He had one good year in 22 taking the Raiders to the Super Bowl, probably in spite of him, not becuase of him. We had 1st and goal a couple times against Clemson, threw 1 pass into the end zone, several short passes at the line of scrimmage. It is a regualr occurrence. Anyone who watches film, sorry video, knows what we will run before we run it. I sit there and call the plays we will run, and sure enough, I am usually right. If I can do that, so can opposing coaches paid to know what we will do. Every year, clock management at end of game or half costs us. I remember a couple years ago, opposing team driving late, already in FG range, and we let the clock run with 3 TO’s remaining. We will have 3 TO’s when we get the ball back down by 3. Guess what, we got the ball back wiht 3 TO’s and 7 seconds left. Coaching is awful, has been awful, and as long as we turnover assistants every year, will continue to be awful. Fire Amato? The head coach is an administrator – the assistants make the difference. Chuck is great for publicity, emotion, and recruiting. Keep Chuck IF he can keep assistants long term. if Chuck is too difficult to work for and the assistants are forced away, then Chuck needs to go too.

  16. FireCoachAmato 11/03/2005 at 10:41 PM #

    To echo Mike above, “if Chuck is too difficult to work for and the assistants are forced away, then Chuck needs to go too.” I think we’ve already established that Chuck drives talented assistant coaches away. The reason our current assistant coaches are labelled “yes-men” is because only yes-men seem to stay. I think it’s a job requirement to work under Chuck. The assistant coaching carousel, the horrendous clock management, and all the other issues (the main one being “lack of coaching”) are all well established problems. Chuck does not need to go if… . He has clearly shown himself as a fraud and his “coaching” is ruining the program. He simply must go. End of discussion. It’s someone else’s turn.

    Check out:

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