Sendek Coaching Update – Is (Potential) Pitt the Last Chance?

Ten days ago we set the table regarding inside perspective on the NC State Basketball coaching situation. I think that it is important that you start by reading that entry. In that entry you will see where we shared the following:

Some key human resource consultants with a focus on advising schools in coaching searches have shared off the record that they see no way that Herb Sendek can get the type of job in which they expect that he has interest.

With the Wolfpack in Dallas over the weekend, we updated you with this update and analysis that shared:

We have learned that Coach Sendek has escalated his discussions inside the world of college basketball regarding his desire to move to a fresh beginning. Sendek is fed up with the current situation at NC State and wants to leave. (Despite what any administrator or player may publicly argue).

The following is an update with some opinion interwoven into the information:

* Upon arrival back in Raleigh after State’s embarassing loss (and school record NCAA Tournament beating) to Texas on Sunday, Coach Sendek met with Bobby Purcell and Lee Fowler earlier in the week. The exact topics of discussion are not known, but we do believe that this was more than a normally scheduled meeting due to the presence of Bobby Purcell.

* After sending feelers throughout college basketball related to potential job opportunities (for at least the last month), Coach Sendek has received little to no interest in his services from the kinds of schools in which he would be interested. This week, Sendek has changed his message to the community to hint that he is “not interested” in leaving NC State to save face and not look rejected.

* Big rumors potentially planted by ‘Team Sendek’ started flying on Monday and Tuesday that Wendell Murphy had re-inforced his support for Coach Sendek, even going as far as saying that he would personally “match any job offer Sendek received” to keep him in Raleigh.

* We do not know the accuracy of these^ rumors, particularly because later in the week the new story being filtered was that “Mr. Murphy never says anything about these issues and he just wants what is best for NC State”. Such a statement related to money seems odd since everyone realizes that no school is going to offer Sendek more than his $800k-$900k current package in Raleigh. If Murphy actually believes this would be the case then he would be indicating just how far removed from reality that he is. Based on historical behavior, it would not be beyond some of the members of ‘Team Sendek’ to use Mr. Murphy in such a manner to help build political insulation for Sendek without Murphy’s knowledge.

* Most of the jobs that many hoped would be interested in Coach Sendek have been filled this week without an ounce of interest in Herb – Iowa State, Ole Miss, Kansas State, others. Because of Sendek’s ties to Pennsylvania and three years as the Head Coach at Miami (Ohio), the Cincinnati job appeared to be a potential fit for Sendek. Due to the tarnished image that the University endured under Bob Huggins, the clean image of Sendek seemed to make more since. Instead, UC heard negative things about Sendek’s relationship with his Miami players (Miami’s players actually threw a party celebrating Sendek’s departure to Raleigh 10 years ago)
and chose to express no interest in Herb before hiring another rising that is now not available for NC State in the future – Mick Cronin.

* Arizona State has reportedly offered Pitt Head Coach, Jamie Dixon and reports today indicate that Dixon is leaning towards accepting the open Arizona State job (that also had no interest in Coach Sendek).

Earlier in the week, it was believed that Dixon had decided to remain at Pitt, where he has four years remaining on a deal reportedly worth close to $600,000 annually. But Arizona State increased its offer — a supposed five-year deal — over the past two days to “close to $900,000” annually, the source said.

Pitt’s new offer to retain Dixon is believed to be roughly $800,000 annually. It is unclear what buyout provisions are included in Dixon’s contract at Pitt.

* Three years ago, Ben Howland left Pitt to become the Head Coach of UCLA. At the time, Coach Sendek was coming off his 2nd straight NCAA Tournament Appearance while compiling less than impressive numbers and had lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Cal. Lee Fowler and other members of Team Sendek chose to use the open Pitt job as an opportunity to tout how attractive Herb Sendek was to the overall market and started telling the world that Pitt wanted Coach Sendek. Some very interesting perspective and comments logged at the time can be found by clicking here.

* The truth to the Pitt rumors could never be confirmed, in large part because of the nature of how coaching ‘searches’ and conversations take place. The best that we have ever heard was from Team Sendek that that “Pitt offered Herb and he turned it down”. We don’t know if a true offer ever officially came from the school or if conversations where being had with mutual representatives.

* But, Team Sendek failed to share that the REASON Coach Sendek decided he was not interested in the job –beacuse the financial package tied to the position was approximately $500k-$600k. Sendek, who is notoriously frugal and values money with much greater priority than is recognized publicly, was not interested in taking the job for less money even if it meant re-setting his clock at Pitt.

* Pitt does not have financial deep pockets and afford to pay coaches such high salaries. Three years ago this was an issue for Herb Sendek. If the Pitt job should come open again, we doubt that the financial issue would be as large of a hurdle because of the current environment surrounding Sendek’s continued presence in Raleigh.

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30 Responses to Sendek Coaching Update – Is (Potential) Pitt the Last Chance?

  1. class of '85 03/24/2006 at 11:12 AM #

    A glimmer of hope!

  2. VCOULDCOOK 03/24/2006 at 11:36 AM #

    “(Miami’s players actually threw a party celebrating Sendek’s departure to Raleigh 10 years ago) ”

    ^ I believe this is a rumor that has been disproved before. If you have an article of some sort to back it up, that’s fine (and I would like to see it). I have heard from people close to the program that the Miami players did not, in fact, have a high opinion of Coach Sendek, but that the “players throwing a party” rumor was completely untrue.

  3. site admin 03/24/2006 at 11:40 AM #

    ^ If I remember, JB34 didn’t believe the story at the time until their was a mention of it in a Ohio newspaper. JB34 then vehemently defended Sendek and called out the Miami players for not being tough enough. In light of Sendek’s ACC-leading record of 20 premature defections from the NC State program since his arrival, JB34 was obviously wrong.

    The following quote from the News & Observer seems to indicate a different view of Herb from the Miami players than what you are making up here.

    “He demands a lot. Nobody’s going to slack off, that’s for sure. Not everybody’s going to like him. I don’t want to say he’s a mean guy, but he could show up in the morning without saying hi to his secretary. He goes straight to work, and that’s why he wins. He’s strictly business.�

    Miami Ohio guard, Rob Mestas (then a freshman) speaking with the News & Observer shortly after Sendek was hired at NC State in April, 1996

  4. Matt E. 03/24/2006 at 11:49 AM #

    ^ I think you might have misread this…

    “I have heard from people close to the program that the Miami players did not, in fact, have a high opinion of Coach Sendek, but that the “players throwing a partyâ€? rumor was completely untrue.”

    SFN: You are completely right. We went back and fixed it. Thanks!

  5. withheld 03/24/2006 at 12:01 PM #

    The party was true. The players really liked Charie Coles and were excited that Herb left.

  6. topoftheorder 03/24/2006 at 12:43 PM #

    I used to play basketball with a guy that played for Herb at Miami, and I remember asking him when Herb was hired for State what he thought about Herb. He said he hated Herb and that Herb was a total asshole. That was just one guy’s opinion, although the guy did play good minutes at Miami, so I didn’t just blow it off as some punk who couldn’t play and was mad about it.

    Later, in Herb’s first or second year, I talked to a couple of the State players who stayed and played after Herb first came in and cleaned house a little bit (like running off Marco Harrison, Ivan Wagner, and some of those guys who, I was told, were very lazy). They told me Herb was just really tough (i.e. a strict disciplinarian type) and not really an asshole. That made me feel better, and, at the time, I hoped that Herb would turn out to be an old school but successful firebrand coach in the mold of Bobby Knight or Coach K…oops, my hopes were dashed.

    Personally, I think Herb’s problems with personel and transfers have always been a combination of:

    (1) His desperate attempts to fill the bench late in the spring…All of those late signees end up transferring…

    (2) Not having enough real talent so that roles are clearly defined…At UNC last year, everyone on that team knew that Felton, McCants, and May were the top dogs and the rest of the guys better fill in as needed or hit the bench. With Herb’s collection of talent, no one is really all that better than the guy behind him, and ballplayers get pissed off when they have to sit behind someone they think they are better than…

    (3) Having NO people skills…There is really no reason to drill that point home—it is so obvious, just look at the fanbase. Herb would not be in as deep a mess as he is in if he had the ability to open up and connect with fans, the media, etc. as a human being. Don’t believe me?? Ask JERRY FAUST. Jerry Faust was one of the worst COACHES Notre Dame has ever had, but, despite his coaching failure, he is still LOVED by Notre Dame fans to this day—he is still hanging around Notre Dame, people still have him sign books and memorabilia, etc.—because of his PEOPLE skills. Most ND fans recognize that ND was too big a deal for Faust, he was in over his head, and should have never been hired—they don’t torture him about it because he handled everything honestly and openly and was willing to fall on the sword for the better of ND. Another example, look at the way Les is viewed versus Herb. Everyone knows Les sucked, but most go easy on him because of his people skills. Herb, on the other hand, is hated by many fans and will always be hated unless he were to have some incredible success or come out with a big press conference and show some humility by saying he is stepping down for the good of the program, a house divided, etc. (not going to happen, of course).

    (4) Little success or crediblity to fall back on when times get tough…Herb is the bomb when it comes to math, but he hasn’t done anything spectacular in the bball world, so, when things get tough, a guy like Julius Hodge or Cam Bennerman starts to think he knows better than dorky Herb and starts doing his own thing (Hodge) or questioning everything later in the media (Cam). Had Herb won 1 or 3 of those ACCT Title games, things might be different as a little bit of success (S16) has helped reel in Chris Wright, but Herb has a long way to go. A guy like Rick Barnes or John Calipari doesn’t have that problem because they have coached in Final Fours and put players in the NBA. A guy like Nate McMillan could come in and things would likely change because he was a great player in both college and the pros and has been successful coaching at Seattle (we’ll see about Portland—maybe he will get tired of dealing with primadonnas like Telfair and come back to State to coach his kid if Herb bombs big time next year…).

  7. WTNY 03/24/2006 at 1:05 PM #

    I don’t know why I keep following this saga but here is a link I found interesting (via

    Link to article

    *Calipari says he’s not leaving, but he might listen*
    “. . . he acknowledged the appeal of coaching at a name school in a name league.”

  8. BJD95 03/24/2006 at 2:00 PM #

    I don’t think Pitt can afford Calipari. However, WE certainly could. If Pitt was willing to go $800K for Dixon, would they do the same for Sendek? Or will they opt for a lower-cost alternative (and hometown hero) like Xavier’s Sean Miller?

    And I don’t expect Sendek to leave here (approximately $850K?) for a $250K/yr MAC job. But would he really choose to stay in his current situation (hotbed of discontent) rather than take a relatively SMALL paycut (say, to $700K) to go to Pitt? That would seem completely crazy to me.

    Calipari. Name school in a name conference. I like the sound of that. I watched Memphis play last night. To put it mildly, I found their style of play entertaining.

  9. class of '85 03/24/2006 at 2:06 PM #

    Calipari Named New Head Coach AT NC State!

    It’s o.k. to dream!

  10. class of '74 03/24/2006 at 2:16 PM #

    Note to Pitt: If his bubbly personality doesn’t win you over maybe his exciting brand of hoops will. I wholeheartly recommend him to you!

  11. ThePack 03/24/2006 at 2:20 PM #

    Scotty Jackson – exactly why is Herb a good coach? why should people not critize his actions?

  12. zeke 03/24/2006 at 2:27 PM #

    Someone delete Scotty Jackson’s post and direct him to the ‘A Word About The Blog’


  13. class of '74 03/24/2006 at 2:31 PM #

    If the claims of penuriousness are true I say it will take the jaws of life to seperate Herb from NCSU.

  14. Texpack 03/24/2006 at 2:34 PM #

    In the last 20 years the basketball program at NC State has gone from being at worst the number three program in the conference (a strong argument could be made for number two) to a middle of the expanded conference program. I don’t think wanting to regain respectability within the conference and compete(.500 record against) with the top 25-30 teams in the country disgraceful. Herb Sendek is capable of delivering a product that will rank around 40-60 on a regular basis. This just isn’t good enough given the facilities, money, and time that he has been provided with. The basketball program is in much better shape than when he took over, but not where it should be in the view of those of us who lived through the 70’s & 80’s with the State program.

  15. choppack 03/24/2006 at 2:47 PM #

    Actually texpack – over the last 3 years, State has the 3rd best conference record….

  16. VaWolf82 03/24/2006 at 2:59 PM #

    Considering that the last two years have been played with unbalanced schedules, exactly what significance or conclusion do you draw from that “fact”.

  17. Jerry Setzer, Sr. (Wuf62) 03/24/2006 at 3:04 PM #

    Forget the openings, rumors, etc. about Herb. He’s got at least one more year. Sadly, he is our version of the venereal desease that plagued Chapel Hill a few years back (Dick Crum). The real sad part about ours is that it appears to be a more virulent strain which lasts beyond 10 years. Put a headset on Herb, and he’d look just like old Dick or Michael Dukakis (sp) in the tank helmet.

  18. scott 03/24/2006 at 4:15 PM #

    Has the Missouri job been filled yet? Just wondering if that’s still not a possibility.

  19. topoftheorder 03/24/2006 at 4:47 PM #

    Jerry…Love the Herb = Dukakis is a tank helmet!! That’s it in a nutshell…

    If Calipari ends up at Kentucky or Indiana, maybe I accept it. But, if he ends up at Missouri, we have BLOWN it big time AGAIN!!

  20. THE Only One 03/24/2006 at 5:25 PM #

    i’m thinking Alford is getting mizzou

  21. Joe 03/26/2006 at 7:51 AM #

    Missouri hired the UAB coach.

  22. J. W. "Butch" Allen 03/26/2006 at 8:41 AM #

    Herb Sendek is not a viable or marketable candidate for any other coaching jobs at a major university. He is a perfect example of the “Peter Principle” and everyone knows this. He will not resign because in his own mind, he is successful and feels he has done a good job with the Wolfpack basketball program. He appears to be a very focused individual who does not adapt to change or react to constructive criticism in a positive manner.
    It has been written State has a ‘good’ program. If this was based on wins/losses, player graduationn rates, bottom line income to the athletic program and other “bean counter” measurements then maybe a ‘good’ rating is deserved. The real question is “GOOD” what we expect from someone making a $850K to $1 million per year? Is being a “nice guy” more valuable than beating Duke or Carolina? Is being respected and admired by Coach K more valuable than an ACC Title? Is a 20 win season more valuable than victories over Duke, Carolina and Wake Forest? Is having the respect of NCSU’s adminstrators more important than having the support and respect of the Wolfpack Nation? The current consensus from all the things I read appear to be a resounding Yes and No. This is the problem. The kind of coach we need is someone who can achieve respect, acceptance and a solid “YES” from both sides of the issues. Is Coach Sendek capable of achieving this? Ten years of coaching at State has not accomplished this objective, in fact, the division is greater today than ever and continues to widen into two polarized camps both arguing their reasons for Coach Sendek to go or remain.
    The real decision has to be with Coach Sendek. If Coach Sendek has State’s best interest in his heart and mind and if he really does bleed Wolfpack Red then the only noble thning, the only right thing to do is to resign. Coach Sendek deserves to be in a job where he is appreciated by all factions and NC State deserves a Coach who will have the respect and appreciation from those that really care and love NC State.

  23. rodney 04/01/2006 at 3:15 PM #

    yeah right you bunch of dipshits…that’s why ASU offered him over 1 million….

    way to run off one of the best coaches State could get…now get ready for years and years right along side Clemson and FSU….

  24. Eric 04/01/2006 at 3:46 PM #

    How can you say that?

    There are prestigeous universities with a proud basketball traditon–UCLA, Kentucky, UNC and there are universities that got lucky with hiring what turned out to be extraordinary coaches–Duke, Indiana, Marquette (the latter two have fallen back and Duke will too when Coach K retires). NC State is at worst the 3rd most prestigeous basketball program in the best college basketball conference in the country. We should have a Top Ten program by now. This program should be extremely attractive to a top name coach such as Calipari and if not we should keep trying every 6 to 8 years to find the next up and coming extraordinary coach.

    Question: if you were a coach at NC State and successful what other college program would be so attractive that you would leave NC State to go coach? There’s not many. Top Ten–we’ve waited long enough.

  25. GaroEd 04/01/2006 at 6:34 PM #

    Ten years is long enough. We have a very rich history & tradition in colleage basketball, and very dedicated fans who should be able to attract the best coaches in the country. As long as we keep Herb we will be second best to UNC & Duke every year, and this type of offense will NEVER win another NCAA championship. time for change!!

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