Because We’re NC State

By beowolf

Several sports commentators have reacted to NC State’s ambitious coach search and fans’ expectations with anything from incredulity to outright anger. The gist of their reactions is an old chestnut now to Wolfpack fans. It basically goes as follows: “There is NO WAY NC State can compete against Roy Williams and Coach K, so they shouldn’t even try.”

I’m sure it makes sense to people outside of the Triangle, if not the Atlantic Coast Conference region. But to the rest of us, it smacks of sports commentators accustomed to hearing only themselves talk in their echo chambers of ignorance.

I hold in my hands Sports Illustrated November 26, 1973 College Basketball Preview issue with David Thompson on the cover. NC State opened that season ranked #2 in the country, second only to 7-time NCAA champion UCLA. The cover article discusses Thompson and the ACC, particularly the Big Four.

It seems Thompson chose NC State because, he said, unlike at Carolina, “I figured at State I would have a good chance at the NCAA.” That’s championship, he meant.

But the article goes on to discuss Everett Case. Here is how it begins:

The Atlantic Coast Conference has become college basketball’s foremost carnival due largely to the efforts of, appropriately, another N.C. State ringmaster. His name was Everett Case …

All of you finger-wagging talking heads who’ve ever said NC State “can’t expect to compete with Carolina and Duke” — ask yourself: Why does the SI author say “appropriately” in that introduction? Why is it appropriate, that while noting the rise of the ACC on the verge of NC State’s first national championship, that the architect of this rise be an NC State head coach?

Ponder that for a while, and try to reconcile it with your assumptions about NC State. Now, back to the article:

His name was Everett Case, and he arrived in Raleigh as head coach in 1946. Back home in Indiana, Case had never played the game but had been an admired high school coach at the age of 18. Even then he recruited tough; it was said as Case moved from town to town he transferred the good studs with him.

Case was suave and sophisticated. He bought his clothes in Chicago, had them tailored in New York and vacationed in Las Vegas. He owned a lucrative restaurant chain and scored heavily in the stock market. But he quickly became a folk hero among the dirt farmers of eastern North Carolina because he recruited exciting players, coached a fast-break style and competed and won against the best teams in America.

Case had a strategist’s mind and a promoter’s heart. He originated tournaments — the Dixie Classic with the “Big Four” colleges in the state playing against four outsiders. He forced the construction of enormous Reynolds Coliseum to be completed. He treated the rival teams in nearby Chapel Hill and Durham like junkyard hounds.

In his first 10-year period at State, Case won six Southern Conference tournaments, three ACC tournaments and six Dixie Classics. During that time his teams never won fewer than 24 games a season and several times the Wolfpack was ranked No. 1 in the country. …

What Case had established was enthusiasm and a fanatical interest in college basketball. He forced the Big Four campuses to match him. After State had defeated Carolina 15 straight times, the Chapel Hill school brought Frank McGuire down from St. John’s in 1952. …

Pretty soon you encounter names like Bones McKinney, Vic Bubas, Dean Smith, Lefty Driesell, and Norm Sloan. But it all began with Case — who “treated the rival teams in nearby Chapel Hill and Durham like junkyard hounds.” You know, the same rival teams that the myopic sports commentators say N.C. State can’t expect to compete against today.

The fact of the matter is, Case brought NC State basketball to the big time. He thoroughly thrashed the Tarheels and the Blue Devils (“like junkyard hounds,” remember), so they ponied up and brought big-time basketball to their programs. This started the Tobacco Road rivalry. It also set into motion a CYCLE: each new coach either made his mark or flamed out, but the rivals continued to pursue excellence because they’d get their teeth kicked in by the others if they didn’t.

For example, when the article got to Sloan, it said this:

Sloan, another player under Case at N.C. State, hurried back to his alma mater. In 1968 he beat Duke 12-10 and then nudged his way past Smith and Driesell by landing Burleson and Thompson. The battles were joined all over again. …

The battles were joined all over again. It’s not in these three schools’ history of rivalry, started by Case, to decline, to back away, to give up in the face of the other two’s excellence.

So it would be betrayal of itself and the Tobacco Road rivalry for NC State – the school that started this tradition! – to go along with the Jim Romes and the Jay Bilases and the Bob Hollidays and all the rest who say we can’t compete against our rivals because they’re just too good. That’s not what UNC and Duke said when we had Case, that’s not what we said when UNC and Duke had Dean and Bubas, that’s not what Duke said when we had Sloan and UNC had Dean (K and V came in the same year), that’s not what we said we Sloan left. And it’s not what we’re saying now, with Sendek gone.

It’s not unrealistic or delusional. It’s fully in keeping with our tradition and history – and with what made Tobacco Road so great. Anyone who says otherwise is revealing his own ignorance.

Related links:
Packer had right idea, wrong point

Holland 30 years ago

DT vs DrJ: The Day the dunk was born (and other “tradition” comments)

SI: State is the Origin of the Final Four’s Greatness

SI: Valvano’s Valiant Legacy

CBS: 1983 Started March Madness

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

General NCS Basketball Required Reading Tradition

53 Responses to Because We’re NC State

  1. Herb 04/06/2006 at 8:07 AM #

    Amen, brotha.

  2. Alpha Wolf 04/06/2006 at 8:16 AM #

    You should have heard John Thompson and John Feinstein yesterday.

    Thompson understands our ambition. Feinstein, he has no clue…as usual…maybe he should take up lacrosse reporting.

    In the absence of facts, report the message boards….

  3. Britt P 04/06/2006 at 8:16 AM #

    The Pack was the ACC and will be again!!!

  4. beowolf 04/06/2006 at 8:21 AM #

    Good article, Alpha.

    Feinstein should be strapped to a chair with his eyes clipped open like Alex from A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch NC State from 1972-74, then from Jan to March 1983. Then let’s hear him call them flukes. I’ll be glad to help put the drops in his eyes.

  5. BladenWolf 04/06/2006 at 8:23 AM #

    I love this site. In the midst of all the media talking heads, facts are interesting things to bring up from time to time. Go Pack!

  6. pl8cool_pack 04/06/2006 at 8:27 AM #

    I like this site.

  7. Only One 04/06/2006 at 8:27 AM #

    well feinstein is a dookie so what do you expect. for dookies ACC history is only Post-K time

  8. Tired In Florida 04/06/2006 at 8:29 AM #

    The best rendition of what it means to have be a State fan for 50 years. Great post.

  9. wrNCSU 04/06/2006 at 8:32 AM #

    This is the proudest I have been to be an NCSU fan and alum in years. The media loves UNC because they all went to school there and they know what we’re capable of and it frightens them. We will reclaim the ACC soon. This is a very crucial time in our history. We have the oportunity to bring in someone dynamic and ambitious to take us to the next level where we have always been except for the last 15 years. It’s time to rise up and slay the TarHoles and Devils.

  10. class of '74 04/06/2006 at 8:32 AM #

    Funny how a Duke history major doesn’t seem to know history. There are three programs that are head and shoulders above the rest and we know who they are.

  11. BJD95 04/06/2006 at 8:34 AM #

    Absolutely terrific stuff. Thanks, Beo.

  12. Cardiff Giant 04/06/2006 at 8:35 AM #

    Very, very, very, VERY good work!

  13. wrNCSU 04/06/2006 at 8:41 AM #


    “Because we are NC State” Should be posted on the NCSU homepage and required literature for all students. Bravo.

  14. Alpha Wolf 04/06/2006 at 8:42 AM #

    Amen, brotha. Beo has hit a homer.

  15. JTO 04/06/2006 at 8:42 AM #

    Excellent write up. This should be required reading for all basketball fans, potential coaches, and a few ignorant journalists.

  16. Jeff 04/06/2006 at 8:45 AM #

    Updated for more links for your enjoyment

  17. Packgal 04/06/2006 at 8:46 AM #

    Imagine… real rivalries again where everyone is on the edge of their seat the entire game because both teams bring it all to the floor and leave nothing when they are done….

  18. Jeff 04/06/2006 at 8:50 AM #

    How do you expect most journalists to understand the free market and the constructive forces of competition?

    Most of them are still fighting the internet.

  19. jeff_c 04/06/2006 at 8:53 AM #

    Excellent work beo and Alha. I can’t wait to start beating down those “junkyard dogs” again.

  20. old13 04/06/2006 at 8:54 AM #

    Could we get a copy of this to ESPN!

  21. Cardiff Giant 04/06/2006 at 9:04 AM #

    My only complaint is that you didn’t point out that Taylor Zarzour shares his first name with precisely 1,322, 616 exotic dancers. That’s an important point.

    The media, to quote Tony Vu, is “stupid and lazy.” The only exceptions to that are old local hands like Tom Suiter, Frank D, Tudor and the comparative newcomer Andruuw Jones from ILM. Average radio gues don’t know from the past five years let alone 25, and can’t comprehend a universe where Duke and UNC are not on top of the world – or should be, to include the D’oh years.

  22. VaWolf82 04/06/2006 at 9:04 AM #

    Absolutely outstanding reads from Alpha and Beo!

    Two homeruns blasted way out of the park. Great job guys!

  23. BladenWolf 04/06/2006 at 9:05 AM #

    ^Also remember that a dookie (like Feinstein) never talks about football…

    what a “one sport school” Duke is… oh wait.. I hear they play Lacrosse too… oh wait…. maybe not.

    GO PACK!

  24. beowolf 04/06/2006 at 9:07 AM #

    Something else just struck me about that old SI article. The author refers to the ACC as the “foremost carnival” — and then referred to the NC State coach as a “ringmaster.”

    I think it’s “appropriate” to point out that even BEFORE its first national championship — and well before Valvano! — the national sports media considered NC State coaches “ringmaters” in basketball’s “foremost carnival.”

  25. VaWolf82 04/06/2006 at 9:14 AM #

    Even Andrew Jones understands a few things. It’s not as good as the work done by Alpha or Beo, but still a good read:

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