Fowler Not to Blame on this One

Link to tonight’s coaching conversation

I know that I am the last person in the world that you ever thought that you would see writing this piece, but I’ve seen a lot of Wolfpackers on message boards (and on this blog) trying to criticize Lee Fowler for the John Calipari situation. I had to chime in and share that I find that criticism unfair.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty in this world for which Lee Fowler can be criticized – NC State wouldn’t be in this current situation had he taken the appropriate and obvious steps to make a change in our basketball program five years ago. Nor would it exist had he had been more proactive about nudging Herb Sendek out of Raleigh in recent years when perhaps the coaching candidate pool contained more rising stars (like Bruce Pearl last year and Thad Matta the previous year). It sure would have been nice to have been prepared for Calipari’s re-entrance into college basketball six years ago or have spoken with Rick Barnes five years ago before he was established and settled in Austin.

But, you cannot criticize Lee Fowler for missing on John Calipari. I honestly believe that there was nothing that Fowler and NC State could have done differently in the Calipari situation. Nothing. As we stated in our de-brief tonight, John Calipari initiated contact with NC State. John Calipari pursued NC State. John Calipari verbally committed to NC State. John Calipari lied to everyone throughout the process. He played us like a master. You can’t criticize Fowler for pursing one of the two big names that everyone in the NC State community wanted to try to pursue.

Perhaps the overall NC State search could be executed more strategically? Perhaps Fowler should have had a short list that was more vetted than it appears has been the case (because, he knows basketball)? Perhaps we should have been through more than just two candidates in Day Ten of the search – especially since Fowler expressed that he knew of Arizona State’s interest and the likelihood of losing Sendek before it happend.

Regardless, the Calipari situation is over. We will never have to face Calipari on a regular basis because we know that he will never coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It is time to move forward.

Fowler, to his credit, has gone after the two coaches NC State has coveted for many years. Kudos. He (we) didn’t land them. There may be one more candidate that will universally unite the fan base that remains – Jay Wright. Perhaps this is where the criticism for Fowler starts to become justified – if you’ve had weeks to get ready for this, how are we not more engaged with Wright? Maybe we are. It just doesn’t feel that way.

In Georgia Tech’s search five years ago, all the GT fans were asking for Bill Self and Calipari. Dave Braine did his homework, and got who he thought was the best mid major coach out there, Paul Hewitt.

Going after the major boys is great, but the two downsides are (1) you can get burned and (2) some really good mid-major candidates get taken before you get to them. For example Mike Anderson (UAB to Mizzou) may have been a good fit for us. Same with Bobby Gonzalez (Manhatten to Seton Hall). Mark Turgeon at Wichita State just signed a contract extension.

I have heard/seen a few comments tonight that spoke to how Lee Fowler didn’t want to go after Calipari to begin with and was ‘pushed’ into by the Wolfpack Club and certain blogs. (No shit. How is that for a hoot! Talk about power!!!! I don’t know if I would want to admit that, however). I just wonder who these people who criticize would have acccepted as #2 on our list? Sounds like the same mindset that has driven our program into this ditch — Don’t aim high. Don’t set big goals. Don’t let anyone know that you want to be the best. When you live life in that manner then you can never fail!

I have no idea who Fowler’s original Plan B was supposed to be. I don’t think anyone really does. Public indications point to it being John Brady.

And somehow, certain critics of those that wanted to aim high think that Lee Fowler’s master plan of John Brady is supposed to make everyone feel BAD about trying to get Calipari? Non-sense. If anything it justifies exactly why State had to take swings of the bat at big named candidates. It’s not our fault that Fowler never proactively created a situation over the last six years where NC State could control its own destiny with a more strategic coaching move as opposed to a reactionary one.

Fowler, if he hasn’t done so, needs to start examining mid major candidates and be prepared for that avenue if Jay Wright is not the guy. There is a Jim Valvano, Coach K, Bobby Cremmins, or Paul Hewitt out there. Fowler must find him. Afterall, he knows basketball.

General NCS Basketball

105 Responses to Fowler Not to Blame on this One

  1. firenice 04/11/2006 at 11:56 PM #

    good blog.

  2. NeverGiveUp 04/11/2006 at 11:59 PM #

    Well Stated.

    I apolgize for defeatists comments made tonight.

    “This talk doesn’t surprise me in the least — it 100% is consistent with the same mindset that has driven our program into this ditch — Don’t aim high. Don’t set big goals. Don’t let anyone know that you want to be the best. When you live life in that manner then you can never fail! ”

    There is winner out ther, we just have to find him.

  3. beowolf 04/12/2006 at 12:01 AM #

    … and earn him a raise in Podunksville.

  4. roon7723 04/12/2006 at 12:03 AM #

    keep the faith everyone

  5. Metalhead 04/12/2006 at 12:03 AM #

    I agree, its so much easier to criticize without walking in the mans shoes these past 10 days. I would have loved to have Barnes or Calipari. But since Calipari’s side initiated contact as many have said, I think they were playing us all along to fatten their wallets. The whole visiting here and being impressed was just a facade. Jay Wright may come to double his income though. Maybe he’s seeing 2 strikes, and wanna strike us out too, while sweetening his deal. Brady, not a chance. B list, I’d like to see Johnny Dawkins.

  6. firenice 04/12/2006 at 12:07 AM #

    by the way:

    many of us dedicated state fans have been glued to this since sat-sun now ending Tuesday night (Calipari saga). It has been emotionally and mentally draining tracking planes and information bytes, and obsessing over the development and possibility of getting a big name coach. I think we got very attached to the possibility after Monday night, and so we are gut-punched and wiped out.

    I love to find out what really happened. can we really blame Calipari for using NC State to get a fat raise? If so, why not use Oklahoma for that? Maybe because he knew we needed him badly? Can what he did be considered a business maneuver, but unfortunately we were on the losing end? Dollars and sense?

    Further I would love to philosophize about who the next candidate will be, but i think i need to get back to life and step away from the whole situation, this has been a very ugly ending. Crap, even national media was saying it was a perfect fit. He fooled everyone.

  7. JimmyVguy 04/12/2006 at 12:08 AM #

    I’m done criticizing until he hires Brady, Gillespie (princeton hybrid offense), or tries to hire the unlurable Jay Wright. As I’ve said before…he should go after Greg Marshall or my personal favorite…Bobby Lutz.

    If not either of these guys then Iona coach Jeff Ruland a former player for Jimmy V.

  8. Metalhead 04/12/2006 at 12:11 AM #

    “Crap, even national media was saying it was a perfect fit. He fooled everyone.”

    You don’t become a wanted coach by simply mastering the X’s and O’s ON the court. He has mastered the X’s and especially the O’s off the court…to the tune of $500,000 or so. Now thats alot of “O’s”

  9. dougied1987 04/12/2006 at 12:20 AM #

    I agree Fowler did about the best he could. The only thing that Fowler might have done wrong is not contacting more then just Calipari. Personally I wouldn’t want a coach that can’t be trusted anyway. Before this whole coaching saga I was ready to call for Fowler’s head, like most. But after seeing that he does have a brain in that head of his, he has won me back over for now. I think that he will find us a good “up and comer”. Right now I kinda feel sorry for the man since he, just like all of us, was played like a fiddle for a fattened wallet. Keep hope guys we will pulled through this one. GO PACK!!!!

  10. db321 04/12/2006 at 12:21 AM #

    I think going after Calipari turned out to be a really bad move for State. Would Lee Fowler have interviewed Calipari if this blog and other message board posters vehemently campaigned for it? That’s a great question. In my opinion, the last few days should have been spent chasing Jay Wright or some other big name coach, which seemed to be Lee’s initial thought process and direction.

    SFN – You have got to f*ing kidding me that you think that a blog has that kind of power over Lee Fowler.
    (1) If it does, fire him now.
    (2) What part of this haven’t you understood about Calipari PURSUING STATE. Not the other way around.
    (3) You better be real careful throwing blame like that, since you obviously don’t know the names of the Wolfpack Club members who were set up by Calipari’s people. You see…THEY have stroke. (Not a blog! bwahahaha)

    The excuses are starting. It is always the fans fault that we fail. Yep. I’m sure that Calipari’s interest in the job will mean that Fowler won’t be able to land Jay Wright as he otherwise would have.

  11. db321 04/12/2006 at 12:25 AM #

    dougied1987, he should have definitely been contacting more than just Calipari. Maybe he has and that will come out, but I wouldn’t be surprised…I’m not a Lee Fowler fan.

  12. Metalhead 04/12/2006 at 12:31 AM #

    I predict that whoever we get, we’ll make it to the NCAA tournament while Cal is at Memphis and ironically be paired in the same regionals as them, and we’ll come across them and whip their f*ckin’ ass. Even the though the NCAA tournament committee “says” they don’t match up according to past matchups, I think this will be too hot to pass up.

  13. Woof Wolf 04/12/2006 at 12:32 AM #

    Hey Lee:

    Go to Charlotte. Get a suite. Interview the two guys within driving distance. Hire one of them. They will be cheap compared to the guys other guys we’ve been chasing, but maybe if you offer them enough budjet to hire some quality assitants … who knows … maybe just maybe it might be the smartest thing to do.

  14. cdhawkin 04/12/2006 at 12:32 AM #

    Fowler can redeem himself for all of the years of pain: Wright or bust. If fowler does hire Brady he should be hanged

  15. dougied1987 04/12/2006 at 12:39 AM #

    I agree Brady is definately not a good choice at all. I’m going to give Fowler credit right now unless he messes up. Brady is not qualified to coach here. Haith is much more qualified then Brady. Wright I think is a long shot. We already have 2 strikes why not go for the 3rd. But there are a lot of coaches out there that are a much better choice then Brady.

  16. db321 04/12/2006 at 12:40 AM #

    Wright or bust is a ridiculous comment. I don’t think losing Barnes, Calipari, or Wright would be Lee Fowler’s fault. Having said that, hopefully Wright is interested in State and not just a raise. If it becomes public that we are talking to Wright, then you can be about 99% sure that is all about money.

    At the end of the day, no matter what people say about Barnes, someone close to Barnes leaked the compensation package to the media in an effot to get Texas to counter. I firmly believe both Barnes and Calipari were simply in it for the money because State’s offer was quickly leaked to the public.

    If Wright isn’t interested, then hopefully Lee can find a charismatic coach that has proven he can turn programs into winners quickly and sustain it. I’m no expert, but from what I’ve read, I think Gillispie might be the best mid-major candidate.

  17. hoop 04/12/2006 at 12:43 AM #

    I agree 100% that Fowler is not to blame. No one can control the actions of others and this case just underlines that fact. I can only hope Fowler was working other angles while the Calipari situation developed.

  18. packfan96 04/12/2006 at 12:44 AM #

    To SFN: Great blog.

    To LF: go for broke…’Pack fans expect nothing less. Wright should be next.

    To ‘Pack Fans: keep your chin held high. Hurts like a bi**h right now…

  19. hoop 04/12/2006 at 12:49 AM #

    StateFans: BTW, the “Afterall, he knows basketball.” sounds pretty sarcastic. I’m not sure you meant it that way considering the balance of the article.

  20. StateFans 04/12/2006 at 12:52 AM #

    It was an optimistic plug for us all to trust in the basketball knowledge!!!

  21. EmptyPack 04/12/2006 at 12:58 AM #

    I confess I wasn’t a Herb fan. I have sent my 14 year-old to his camp the past 7 years and he ran that pretty much like he coached his games, he was there at the start, showed up again at intermission, and said goodbye to everyone at the end of the day… but in both instances noticeably absent in the middle when it mattered most.

    In either case I never felt like I was getting my monies worth… but we are fans, STATE fans, not Sloan fans, Valvano fans, …Les or Herb fans. And therefore not afforded the luxury of switching allegiances, or worse yet, simply not caring.

    I appreciate the fact that our athletes are no longer robbing the pizza delivery guy, I don’t cringe when the reporter puts the microphone in front of one of our athletes as I once did, let’s face it, … amphibious? To most of the nation our sports teams are the most visible agents and representatives of our University, and the only thing many people know of us. To them we are simply the Wolfpack, …not the School of Design/Architecture, College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Hum. and Soc. Sciences, an institution of Mathematicians, Physicists, Engineers, etc.

    Like our neighbors, we have experienced that some of those bestowed with the opportunity to get an education did not take advantage of the scholarship/gift afforded them. Something which has reflected on all of us who have attended, or as fans, associate ourselves with this place we love. We are gratefully not the “blue-bloods,” so to speak in the Triangle, perhaps more accurately we are the “blue” collared. The roll up your sleeves, not afraid to get dirty mutts with a proud, yet storied and undeniable pedigree of our own. Royalty in our own right, by virtue of our accomplishments.

    I appreciate the level of respect and credibility that Herb Sendek restored to this visible program, and in so doing, seemingly raised the value of NCSU in the marketplace. I also saw it as an inherent part of his job, and the next man’s, and as such not something to be overly applauded, but rather expected.

    That being said, I too had been calling for his head for the past 5 years, rather frequently and loudly, and Lee Fowler has been a frequent subject of late among my ‘red-blooded” friends for allowing us to drift this far from the proverbial shore. As the loyal fans we Wolfpackers are, I think we also have to accept an equal amount of the responsibility for the feeding frenzy our appetite for success has helped create the past couple of weeks… just as we would have accepted the credit for those in charge pursuing our wishlist of first Barnes, then Calipari. Let’s face it, we got punk’d this time around, and in reflection, Calipari may not have been the catch we thought he was… even though he looks a bit like a large-mouth bass. I propose that the fight song be amended to “go to hell Carolina, Texas, Memphis… all for NC State”

    Here’s hoping the AD, and those who love NC State in a way most of us can’t, i.e., $$$$ …find us someone who fits our needs and personality, and that may very well be someone like many of us, not a ‘Blue-blood,” but a diamond in the rough, a lovable Junkyard dog if you will, and they have the balls to schedule these two for a game in the upcoming season. Hell yeah!! There’s more to this job than meets the eye, an intangible, and the right person will have the vision to see what can’t be seen. GO STATEFANSNATION…and GO PACK!!

  22. db321 04/12/2006 at 1:16 AM #

    SFN: I think JC was pushed on Lee Fowler because JC was not initially one of the main focuses. As far as you jumping to conclusions, I’m not suggesting that this blog, alone, has that kind of power. It simply doesn’t. The reason Lee changed his mind is the “fans” pushed JC on him. Big boosters and small boosters let it be known JC needed to be his focus. This was done via direct(mainly big boosters) and indirect(newspapers, blogs, message boards, etc.) communications.

    And, who said anything about failing? We lost time messing around with JC, who used us all. We can still get a good coach. Hopefully Lee Fowler hasn’t spent all his time on this wild goose chase.

  23. tvp 04/12/2006 at 1:21 AM #

    We are in basically the position that was most likely when this process started – looking to get an up and coming coach. This should not be surprising.

    If anything, we can be happy that 1) The boosters/admin are willing to put up money and 2) That we are committed to hiring the best coach possible.

    I’d like to see us target and hire a new coach quickly now, but I’m more interested in making sure this is done the right way.

    No matter what, we are still better off than continuing to be coached by Sendek. I firmly believe that.

  24. WestCoast 04/12/2006 at 1:41 AM #

    Mark Fox. Coaches Nevada right now, and doing a fine job quietly. Only something like 11 losses the last two years, and is bringing athletes from around the nation to Reno. Hey, at least he’d keep the same nick name…Wolfpack!

  25. NY Statefan 04/12/2006 at 1:55 AM #

    I will give you guys the benefit of the doubt in that Lee Fowler probably did try his best. Unfortunately, it has become painfully evident that Lee Fowler’s best is not good enough for NC State. This is all his mess. If we had gotten rid of Herb 5 years ago, when the media would have had nothing to debate, then State would either a) have made the perfect hire and been well on our way, or b) Made a 2nd mistake, and still be looking for a coach, but with a much better public perception. Do not defend this guy, he is much worse for our athletic dept. than Herb ever was.

Leave a Reply