Is Fowler Talking Lavin?

About 4 or 5 years ago when Lee Fowler was still relatively new to his position at NC State, a friend of mine whom Fowler knew well had the ‘pleasure’ of spending some time with Fowler. We will call my friend, Mr. X.

(Quotes are paraphrases here since I am only relaying a story from a friend).

Once while having a casual conversation, Fowler hypothetically asked Mr. X, “If Herb wasn’t the coach at NC State, who do you think would be a good replacement?”

Mr. X was excited by the opportunity to have the conversation and casually responded with the obvious fully expecting Fowler to already understand, “I don’t know. I think that most NC State fans think Rick Barnes is a real good fit. State fans have always liked Barnes.”

Imagine Mr. X’s surprise when Fowler responded, “Rick Barnes? The guy at Texas? Hmmmm. I don’t know much about him.”

Mr. X then went on to explain a little about Barnes is NC roots, and his time at Clemson, and of course his standing up to Dean Smith.

After these comments, Fowler then threw out, “What about Steve Lavin? I’m impressed by Steve Lavin and think that he’s getting mistreated at UCLA.”

(At the time Lavin was stil the head coach at UCLA. Despite making 6 straight NCAA Tournaments and five sweet 16’s, Lavin was ultimately relieved of his job after 12 years on the Bruins staff his first losing season (10-19) in 2003. Of course Fowler thought that Lavin was being mistreated; Fowler would have given Lavin a job for life)

When I was told of this story years ago, I just shook my head in horror (and fear) that Lee Fowler may one day execute a coaching search for what will end up being the most important hire in NC State Basketball history.

However, in light of this exchange, you can imagine how unsurprised I was whe Pack Pride’s “Coaching Scoop Update” included a picture of Steve Lavin this morning.

I am going to refrain from saying too much more about Lavin. But, you can take a peak at this link for a little more perspective.

I will leave you with just a couple of general thoughts related to the topic:

(1) Fans have a very bad habit of simply taking a coach’s overall record and latching on to it as if it would be transferrable to other jobs. Steve Lavin had one of the five best basketball jobs in AMERICA. His numbers look generally pretty good when you look at them without framing them against the backdrop of his resource base.

But, UCLA is UCLA…with little competition on the west coast; not to mention that Lavin inherited the program not too long after they won a National Championship. You need to analyze coaches in comparison to what they have done with their resource base. Lavin managed to go 10-19 in this sixth season (whatever happened to building a program?) .

(2) Lavin has been trying to get back into coaching every year since he was fired by UCLA. Nobody has hired him. There is a reason for that. Even more troubling is the fact that despite Lavin’s experience as a top assistant coach at Purdue during Gene Keady’s best seasons, Purdue chose not to offer their job to Lavin when Keady announced his retirement a couple of years ago.

In the end, NC State needs to pay special attention to its brand management (which is something that Lee Fowler’s acceptance of poor performance and years of arguing with the fanbase indicates he can’t comprehend.) Why would NC State want to hire any coach that couldn’t get the job done to the standards of other schools?

Post-script – Read the first comment below for some statistical nuggest of Lavin’s “achievements” while at UCLA.

General NCS Basketball

69 Responses to Is Fowler Talking Lavin?

  1. Jeff 04/07/2006 at 9:10 AM #

    Some more specifics to consider re – Lavin:

    Throughout his time at UCLA Steve Lavin has failed to realize why so many alumni and fans have wanted him out for so long. He thinks and gets most of the mass media to believe that UCLA fans have unattainable expectations. He raves about his sweet 16’s and writers compare his results in the tournament to Coach K. It is time to set the record straight about Steve Lavin:

    * UCLA was never ranked in the season ending top 10 1997.

    * He failed to win one Pac-10 Championship in a 6 year period – the first time in UCLA history.

    * He has the second worst winning percentage of any coach post Wooden, after inheriting a team that was one year removed from a National Championship, Walt Hazzard has the worst .621.

    * He did not finish higher than third in the Pac-10 conference since he inherited Jim Harrick’s team his first year.

    * His two lowest finishes in the Pac-10 were the lowest ever at UCLA.

    * He has lost the most games at Pauley Pavilion in 20 years.

    * Steve Lavin was the first losing season at UCLA in over 50 years.

    * Steve Lavin had at least one McDonald’s All-American on his team every year and at least 3 for the past 5 seasons and has yet to win a conference championship or make a final four.

    * Steve Lavin has lost to some bad teams at Pauley Pavilion: Detroit, Cal State Northridge, Pepperdine, Gonzaga (before they were on the map) and this year alone to University San Diego and Northern Arizona.

    * Steve Lavin’s teams have also been blown out of some games: 41 points by North Carolina, 36 points to Duke, 29 points to Pac-10 foes Arizona St., Cal, and Oregon, 26 points to Kentucky and 24 points to Iowa St.

  2. Pakkfan 04/07/2006 at 9:18 AM #

    Wait UCLA fired someone after all those great seasons? They are doomed! They will fail!!!! What a Mistake? Who can they get better then Herb errr Steve?

    Oh, wait.

    Nevermind didnt they just play in a National Championship Game?

    Hey maybe there is hope after all?

  3. old13 04/07/2006 at 9:20 AM #

    OK I’m convinced – NO LAVIN! (I’ve never thought much of him anyway!)

  4. site admin 04/07/2006 at 9:20 AM #

    UCLA is a helluva lot smarter than NC State and Lee Fowler.

  5. Uncle Pack 04/07/2006 at 9:24 AM #
  6. Pakkfan 04/07/2006 at 9:24 AM #

    Was it ever confirmed that Nate did not have the qualifications (degree) for the Job?

    I just saw this thread:

    Which says Nate McMillan may not be back next year.

  7. Pakkfan 04/07/2006 at 9:25 AM #

    Uncle Pack,

    Gregg Doyle is an idiot.

    Read his title:

    Sendek Fired.

    Enough said.

  8. Pakkfan 04/07/2006 at 9:25 AM #

    I am getting some odd spacing atm, my apologies if my above post looks bizarre.

  9. BladenWolf 04/07/2006 at 9:26 AM #

    ^amen to that site admin. amen to that.

    Fowler is starting to get on my f’ing nerves. I made a joke a couple of days ago about the search going down hill and we would eventually ask Quinn Snyder to be our coach.

    God help us if my pessimisstic humor turns into fact.

  10. BladenWolf 04/07/2006 at 9:36 AM #

    …and by the way Gregg Doyle is a f’ing idiot who doesn’t even know the difference when someone resigns and when someone is fired.

    Stop hating Gregg… you know the next coach we get will kick your carolina blue ass.

  11. GrandWolf 04/07/2006 at 9:43 AM #

    It scares the heck out of me that Steve Lavin’s name would even be considered. This is not a good thing.

  12. yannes 04/07/2006 at 9:51 AM #

    I’m pretty sure that Gregg Doyel has some sort of mental impairment like in Rainman or Awakenings.

    Seriously, these ESPN and CBS sports reporters all talk like they are _THE_ expert in whatever school or coach they are reporting on at that time. I’m pretty sure that Doyel has barely followed NC State this year and is barely aware of the fans outside of what people in his little media circle have told him.

    Steve Lavin, John Calipari, etc. etc. Whatever. Fowler just needs to pick a coach and be done with this. I am more concerned about the recruits (you know, the talent) next year and how competitive the team will be. The basketball program has offseason issues that need to be resolved ASAP (especially things like recruits).

  13. booman group 04/07/2006 at 9:53 AM #

    If I remember correctly, didn’t Lavin not want to play Duke each year because Duke always beat him? If he’s a wimp about playing Coach K, then we don’t want him here. I’d rather have the dude from Winthrop.

  14. Sam92 04/07/2006 at 9:55 AM #

    Lavin is not really impressive, depressing thought.

    as for the media — they are looking for a story, and it is easy for them to support Herb. They look like nice, sensitive guys sticking up for poor old Herb who was so unjustly treated.

    everyone else, it seems, says shame on us for not being satisfied with being in the middle. high and righteous they would guilt us for insisting on excellence.

    fortunately as state fans/alums/supporters we don’t have to accept the mediocrity others are only to happy to dole out as our portion

  15. BladenWolf 04/07/2006 at 9:56 AM #

    Uncle Pack>>>> I just sent Gregg Doyle an email explaining the difference between being “fired” and “resigning”. I also called him a UNC/Dookie worshipping hypocrit for good measure. Now I feel better.

    If Fowler is interested in Lavin, then I fear another era of malaise (1993-2001 ) ahead. Return Calapari’s calls right now danmit! I want a press conference this weekend!!

  16. packman12 04/07/2006 at 10:04 AM #

    There was a lot of truth in the Gregg Doyel article. Plus, for those of you calling him an idiot and sending him emails, at least spell his name right. It’s Doyel, not Doyle.

  17. BladenWolf 04/07/2006 at 10:13 AM #

    ^^whatev pacman

    I’ll defend NC State against ingnorant sports writers trying to paint us as “ugly” and “getting what we deserve” anyday… even if I don’t choose to use spellcheck.

    A lot of truth? Gimme a break. Why can’t Mr. Dole tell the difference between being fired and resigning? The title of his slam piece spells his bias correctly enough for me…

  18. Cardiff Giant 04/07/2006 at 10:16 AM #

    I responded to Doyel with a suggestion I’ve never written to anyone in my life – F**k you, Mr. Doyel.

  19. db321 04/07/2006 at 10:17 AM #

    I’d rather have a mid major

  20. BJD95 04/07/2006 at 10:27 AM #

    Steve Lavin = Herb Sendek with hair, and even less upside potential.

  21. J-wolf 04/07/2006 at 10:32 AM #

    I’d rather have Herb back than get Lavin any day. It’s kind of sad that yesterday we were talking about the caliber of coaches like Barnes, Calipari, and Wright, while today we’ve hurtled into the bargain basement of Lavin.

  22. SaccoV 04/07/2006 at 10:35 AM #

    This whole situation is getting worse by the hour. The fact that Lee has tipped his hand with Barnes, no matter who he gets to coach, he will be overpaid significantly. I would accept the $2 mil with Calipari because his results speak for themselves. I have a terrible feeling that we’re going to pay some 1.5 mil or so for Bobby Cremins to come back when it’s all said and done!

  23. db321 04/07/2006 at 10:49 AM #

    ^ First, I don’t think Lee has tipped his hand, i.e. made it public knowledge that State was after Barnes and the amount State would pay for him. More likely, Barnes leaked unofficial discussions of compensation to the press to leverage that into a big raise.

    Second, you pay based on known ability. If a guy is already established as one of the best coaches in college basketball, then he will demand a higher price. A lesser known or less established coach, like Haith or Gillispie, would not get 2 million.

    As far as Lavin or Cremins being options, I hope they are simply smokescreens while we work on other candidates. As hard as it is for me to believe, I am hearing that Lee is listening to a decent number of WPC members, i.e. more than just the top 10 WPC donors like Murphy, and is focused on getting a coach that the majority of fans will like. I hope that is true!

  24. SaccoV 04/07/2006 at 10:53 AM #

    I do as well, but it’s tough to put the lid back on Pandora’s jar. If that much money is offered, whether it’s Jay Wright or Gregg Marshall, the number is probably going to be considerably higher because of the stab at Barnes. It could work out in State’s favor, but during Lee’s tenure, when has anything worked in State’s favor.

  25. WP 01 04/07/2006 at 11:00 AM #

    Brady would be a disasterous decision. We need to stick to our ace in the hole in Haith if we’re going that route.

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