Wolfpackers were buzzing today about the opportunity to hire a new basketball coach for the first time in a decade. All that buzzing can work you into a frenzy if you are not careful. Relax everyone. Right now, things seem to be going pretty well.
Although we definitely enjoy sharing inside scoop, we want to be very careful not share anything that would be detrimental to NC State’s coaching search (or the athletics department, in general). Hopefully this ‘search’ won’t last very long, but we will probably be sharing some things after the fact to avoid even the slightest potential that any public disclosure could negatively impair the search.
===> Lee Fowler returned from Indianapolis on Sunday. Other members of the Wolfpack contingent returned on Monday.
===> A ‘name coach’ will command a total compensation package in excess of $1.5 million. Obviously, a name coach will immediately make more money than Sendek because of a more attractive shoe contract, but additional private funds will be needed to boost potential total compensation above the $1.5 million that will be needed to lure a high profile candidate.
===> There was only so much that could be done on a ‘day of travel’…so, today was generally spent getting prepared and getting the ducks in a row. Rumors have leaked from various sources that the Wolfpack is looking to offer in the neighborhood of $1.8 million for certain coaches. This sounds about right as we had been told it would be close to $2.0 million on the high end.
===> Even though Monday was “get ready day”, the administration is aiming to get this done very quickly. We don’t expect the big names that don’t need much evaluating from State’s perspective to take a lot of time considering the opportunity and serve to slow things down.
===> ^This risk is further mitigated by the buzz that we got from Indianapolis this weekend that some very recognizable and high profile coaches have found ways to express interest in the job. This is obviously very exciting and validating. (We will reserve comments here aimed at Lee Fowler, only to hope that he may be learning that he didn’t “know basketball” as much as he previously thought).
===> “The Wolfpack Club” (a broad term used for both leaders in the club and high ranking donors) have pushed for Fowler to land a big name and have obviously stepped up with the money needed to land certain big names. The ball is in Fowler’s court to execute.
===> Think about the flow of funds. Lee Fowler cannot run the process completely since he does not control all of the purse strings. If a group of donors offer a sum of $500k to supplement the pay of a coach, they are going to (a) dictate the names of the initial targets and/or (b) have to agree to any other name that Fowler may generate.
===> It does not take a rocket scientist to know that Rick Barnes is going to be State’s first target. No surprise. No big deal. It doesn’t matter what any yahoo in the national media says about Barnes’ interest. State must ask. Despite some scary rumors to the contrary today, State will ask in some form or another.
===> If you followed the Raleigh media today you noticed that many were significantly back-tracking on previous Andy-Katz-like comments that Barnes would never listen to State. It seems that they finally did some work and learned what many of us have known for a long time — Barnes has not dismissively shut the door on the idea of coaching in Raleigh like many arrogant media-types proclaim.
===> Monday evening, this news hit the Austin Statesman where Texas’ Athletics Director decided to speak for Rick Barnes. Just so you’ve got it straight and aren’t confused by who said what:
RICK BARNES “said Monday night that he has not received a job offer from North Carolina State.” That is true. We’ve told you that.
‘UT Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds said State has not formally requested permission to speak with Barnes and said “The bottom line is, he (Barnes) doesn’t want to go. He loves Texas.”
===> ^ Those comments don’t bother us in the least. If State was going to ask for permission to talk to Barnes today, we wouldn’t even be in a position to make the call until late in the evening. Additionally, we wouldn’t want to make the call until the evening when general business hours are ending (and reporters can’t reach anyone in the office) .
===> If you are State pursuing a candidate that isn’t pursuing you (like Herb pursuing ASU), you want to ask for permission because it insulates you from being turned down. If Barnes is truly not interested in the job, then Dodds will simply tell NC State that we can’t have permission to speak to him. Presto. We have been turned down without ever having to talk to Barnes and without having been officially turned down.
===> Of course, IF State asked for permission to speak to Barnes later in the day, and IF Barnes actually indicated an interest in speaking with State, then at least State will get a swing of the bat. 🙂
===> The risk that Barnes uses the State opportunity to solidify himself at Texas and get a nice raise in the process is very real. Who really cares if that happens? We ultimately did the absolute best that we could do — we set our sights on a goal and tried. Even further, the 15 years of rumors and flirtations and supposed interest that Barnes has in the job will be over.
Additionally, if Barnes chooses to remain at Texas, he can no longer voice his frustration with UT’s fanbase and region’s lack of appreciation for basketball with as much credibility as he had in the past since that problem would be solved at State before he can shake his first hand.
===> Realize that going after Rick Barnes is not ultimately about “the money”. State will never be able to pay more than Texas. But, you quickly get to a point where one can legitimately ask, “how much is enough”. So Texas may offer $2 million in response to a potential $1.8 million offer from State? Big deal. It took State coming after him to get that raise. Who values him more if we are willing to offer him that and he isn’t even our coach? Either Barnes wants the opportunity to coach in the ACC and forever be the “uniter” for State’s fan base or he doesn’t. Either way, it will no longer be an issue after the next 48 hours.
===> As much as Rick Barnes is the large majority of Wolfpackers candidate #1a…John Calipari is (a slightly smaller majority’s) candidate #1b. To be clear, we do NOT know how this majority translates itself onto Fowler/State’s target list.
===> A case can be made that Calipari may actually be a better coach than Barnes, but in our opinion Barnes’ cultural fit and familiarity with NC State is the initial divider separating the two. As a Hickory native with ACC ties and a long private and public history of coveting and complimenting the NC State position, Barnes gets the nod at the top of the list.
By contrast, along with about twenty other coaches who weren’t keen on working for Todd Turner, John Calipari reportedly turned down the State job ten years ago (when Barnes wanted it). Obviously, you can’t blame Calipari or the other coaches for not being attracted to someone like Turner. Heck, you have lived with the results of Turner’s inability to attract top talent for the last decade.
===> A lot of readers have asked us to share a hypthetical “list” of our preferences for potential candidates for the job. We hope that we never have to spend time on that. It is fun as a fan to try to match certain coaches with certain jobs – and we definitely have our eyes on some coaches that may fit the bill – but, we hope that we don’t have worry about anyone outside of the “top tier” of (1a) Rick Barnes, (1b) John Calipari, (2) Jay Wright.