At this point…why NOT?

NC State fans need to take a step back for a moment and realize that our basketball program has now been placed in a precarious situation.

We are NOT in this situation because we have an unattractive job. That is ridiculous. We are in this situation today because our Athletics Director failed to take proper action to appropriately manage the program over the last five years. And because that same AD has spent the last two weeks talking to one coach that was a horrible idea (Lavin) and another that had a $3 million buyout. (sarcasm) Classic decision making and laser-focused execution!

I was shocked to see how many Wolfpackers seemed to be cold on John Beilein’s candidacy for reasons that I didn’t understand. These feelings were indicative of fans that haven’t accepted the current plight of the search. It is time to accept it, and re-calibrate your standards. As Rick Pitino would tell you, “Folks…Rick Barnes ain’t walking through that door!”

Get over it. NO current/potential candidate is going to be perfect. NO current/potential candidate is going to have ALL of the criteria that you desire. Additionally, the fan base is NOT going to agree on the prioritization of criteria for our hypothetical searches. With all of this said, I don’t see how the fanbase would not be very happy if NC State was able to land a candidate that possessed the following:

* 30+ years of coaching experience with a history of success better than the historical success of the schools where he has coached

* deep local roots with a long standing and well-known appreciation of the NC State job

* an intimate knowledge of the inner-workings of the ACC after 20+ years of coaching in the conference

* historical national recruiting success and contacts

* well-respected by his players and for “good behavior”

* a previous performance that has earned him National Coach of the Year

* a seat on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors

* what if I threw a couple of ACC Championships and Final 8 appearances into the mix along with three ACC Coach of the Year Awards as well as an SEC Coach of the Year for good measure?

Folks…it is time.

It is time to talk about Dave Odom whether he was originally on your wish list or not.

I understand your hesitation. I have shared that hesitation with you. But, things change. I won’t say “beggars can’t be choosers”…but….beggars can’t be choosers. Don’t jump off the deep end on me. And, realize that this is a fan site dedicated to original thought about a host of topics. But, taking into account where NC State’s “search” stands today, let’s talk about why you would/wouldn’t support an Odom candidacy?

To be fair, A LOT of fans embraced my “strategic interim coach idea” a couple of weeks ago. Wouldn’t Odom fit that box as a safe hire to shepard the program through its next phase? Heck, Odom’s past achievements blows away the past achievements of Rick Barnes.

Dave Odom grew up in Goldsboro attending Dixie Classic games and listening to NC State Basketball on the radio. He values NC State’s tradition. He values the NC State job. He gets it. And, he believes that NC State’s spot on the food chain should be higher than we have reached in the last sixteen sad years.

On the court, Odom generated the most successful tenure of any head coach in Wake Forest basketball history. He won as many ACC Championships in his first six years at Wake Forest than the Demon Deacon program has claimed in its other 48 years of competing in the ACC. Heck, Odom had one helluva winning percentage against NC State with far lesser resources…including a winning record compiled during his BAD years against the great Herb Sendek that so many Wolfpackers hold as the standard of success in Raleigh.

What Odom achieved at Wake won’t mean much to the younger Wolfpackers who only recognize Wake Forest as competitive BECAUSE of HIS accomplishments…but, Odom inherited a horrendous situation at Wake Forest in 1989. Talk about a job that nobody wanted? Why do you think that the Deacons had to hire an assistant coach from Virginia in Odom? (Congrats to their AD, by the way. I wonder if he “knew basketball”?)

What Odom did at Wake Forest was nothing short of miraculous when you truly look at the numbers. The only reason that the world doesn’t laugh at Wake Forest today is because of Dave Odom. Why are folks so cold on him as a potential candidate?

We often promote that coaching discussions should be conducted against the backdrop of what a coach achieved when compared to the resource base available and when compared to the historical accomplishments of the program prior to the coach’s arrival. Odom’s career achievements are pretty impressive on their own right; but, when you consider the resource base from which he has worked then his achievements are very impressive.

Do you need a final, ancillary benefit to get you over the hump? How about Terry Holland as NC State’s Athletics Director? We might get an extra benefit from the candidacy because of Odom’s relationship with Holland. What NC State fan would not trade Lee Fowler for Terry Holland in the blink of any eye?

Odom’s career biography can be very long. The following are some selected bullet points that I will throw out:

Wake Forest

* Dave Odom left Terry Holland’s staff in the spring of 1989 when he returned to Winston-Salem. That move marked only the second time in ACC history that an assistant at one school had become head coach at another (Vic Bubas had been the first, going from NC State to Duke in 1959).

* Upon his arrival in Winston-Salem as head coach in 1989, Odom inherited a program that had suffered four straight losing seasons. However, he turned things around and has made school history by winning more games during his 12 years at Wake Forest than any other coach over a similar period of time, compiling a 240-132 record during his time at the school.

* Odom, who led Wake Forest to 11 consecutive national postseason tournament appearances and built that program into a national contender while averaging 20 victories per year during his tenure there.

* Odom was a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and earned National Coach of the Year honors in 1995. He led Wake Forest to two ACC championships and three Top 10 national finishes. His Demon Deacon teams appeared in seven straight NCAA Tournaments from 1991-97, including an Elite Eight showing in 1996 by advancing to the Regional Finals. His youthful 2000 Wake Forest squad caught fire at the end of the season to claim the National Invitation Tournament championship, and his 2001 squad was Odom’s eighth NCAA Tournament team at Wake Forest. His last 11 Deacon teams advanced to postseason play and combined with the 2002 NIT showing by the Gamecocks, he led his last 12 squads overall to the postseason.

* Under his direction, Wake Forest emerged as one of the elite programs in the country, becoming a force at both the conference and national levels on a yearly basis. Odom’s 101 wins in ACC play are the most ever by a Deacon coach. His overall winning percentage (64.5%) was the best at the school in nearly a century, and he can claim .500 or better marks in ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament competition as well.

* Since his only losing record at Wake Forest in 1990, Odom’s teams won more than two-thirds of their games, recording 228 victories (20.7 per year) the last 11 campaigns. In addition to the back-to-back ACC titles in 1995 and 1996, Wake spent 10 weeks as the nation’s No. 2-ranked team in 1997 -the school’s highest ranking ever.

* In 1995, 1996 and 1997, Wake Forest finished as one of the Top 10 teams in the country, claiming the No. 3 spot in 1995, and the No. 9 position in both the 1996 and 1997 final polls. The 26-6 records of ’95 and ’96 were the best in school history, as well.

* Odom was named ACC Coach of the Year three times. Three times he has been chosen district coach of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and twice he has been a National Association of Basketball Coaches award-winner on the district level, as well. The Touchdown Club of Columbus (Ohio) also named him its 1995 national coach-of-the-year after conducting a poll of head coaches across the country.

* In 12 seasons with the Demon Deacons, Odom compiled an impressive 240-132 record. He left Wake Forest with the eighth highest victory total in ACC history.

South Carolina

* Odom is 100-70 in his five seasons at Carolina. He has tutored the Gamecocks to four 20 wins seasons in the past five years. During that time, USC have won two NIT title (2005, 2006), finished as the runner-up in the NIT (2002) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament (2004). In addition to three trips to the SEC Tournament semi-finals, the Gamecocks have also played in the SEC final once (2006).

* When Odom posted his fourth 20 win season in five years this year he joinedthe legendary Frank McGuire as the only Carolina coaches to post four 20 win seasons during their careers. McGuire did it six times in 16 years, while Odom has done it four times in five years.

* In his fifth year as the Carolina head coach, Dave Odom led the Gamecock basketball team to its second straight NIT title in 2006. It may have been the only time in modern history that the NIT Champion swept two games in the regular season from the NCAA Champion.

NC State is going to have to make a decision to try to land a name like Odom or go with an up-and-comer like Whittenburg, Marshall, Haith or others. For all I know, Odom’s ship may have sailed because of Fowler’s absurd decision to chase Steve Lavin and because of his embarassing public mis-steps with Lavin and John Beilein. So, this may be a moot point.

I’m not crazy. And, I’m not turning cartwheels over Dave Odom. But, I’m not turning cartwheels over anyone right now. I’m fully aware that Wake Forest stagnated and ultimately declined a little under Odom. Big deal? Odom has proven to be a turn-around artist at all three of his head coaching stops. If he takes State to heights proportionally similar than what he did at Wake Forest then his “stagnation and decline” will look a lot like Herb Sendek’s last five years. His solid resume is enhanced by his local connections and his fit with the NC State job.

I am not promoting this idea with all of the vigor in the world. But I don’t think a plausible idea truly exists out there that would create the vigor. (Would Rick Barnes come coach if we fired Lee Fowler today and hired his former employer, Eddie Biedenbach as AD?) But, I would like to hear/see some intelligent conversation on the matter.

Lee Fowler has backed himself into a situation where he needs as safe of a hire as he can muster. Can it get much safer than Dave Odom?