Why You Need to Be FIRED UP!

Finally! Someone in the media writes a home run piece discussing reality!! And, it ended up being a self-proclaimed Tarheel? We’ll take any dose of reality that we can get. Thank, you Matt Rehm.

Today’s piece on CBS Sportsline (not written by Gregg Doyel; Don’t Feed the Troll) is a a great read.

Some Wolfpackers have jumped off the deep end after State’s ‘misses’ on Rick Barnes and John Calipari. Some have even replied to potential candidates with comments like “I’d rather have Sendek.”

That’s absurd.

Relax. Relax and enjoy. Enjoy and get excited about the future. There is so much about which to be excited right now that you are missing out on a lot of fun!! You may just need some context to understand why you should be excited (particularly if you are under the age of 30). Allow me to oblige,

I guarantee that NC State’s next basketball coach (as long as he is not named John Brady) will have a more successful tenure than that of Herb Sendek. Guaranteed.

Most people (somehow) forget that Herb Sendek coached at NC State for ten years, not only five. In recent years, far too many fans bought into the Fowler/Sendek crew’s belief that simply “making the NCAA Tournament” was THE standard by which the program should be judged. Most schools field programs to win championships. NC State fielded programs to try to place well in the ACC and make the NCAA Tournament.

This explains why State’s RPI averaged a medicore #45 over the last five seasons and why each season’s schedule was crafted in a manner to manufacture a bloated overall record and squeeze the Pack into the Tournament (where Sendek produced a mediocre5-5 record). This also explains why ten years of opportunity didn’t produce a single signature season that compared with signature seasons of any previous NC State coach not named Robinson. (If you are new here, then you would do yourself a favor by referencing the following two links: Five Straight NCAA Tournaments and RPI & ACC – The Stat Book)

Want some other guarantees? Easy. The next NC State Basketball Coach will also:

* average better than #45 in the RPI when you selectively choose his best five seasons.

* finish in the AP’s Top 25 more than a single time in a decade.

* have a better average NCAA Tournament seed when you selectively choose his best five seasons.

* have a better average ACC Tournament seed when you selectively choose his best five seasons.

* win more than five NCAA Tournament games in the next decade. In fact, if Cedric Simmons stays in Raleigh for another year I will go on record that the Pack will win more than five NCAA Tournament games in the next five seasons (a time period that Sendek played in zero NCAA Tournament games)

For a little enthusiasm about the future, I genuinely believe that fans need to take a look back to realize what NC State’s program can, and should be. This isn’t about wishing for the good old days, nor is it about glorifying the past and foolishly thinking that the world doesn’t change. But, you need to understand that there are significant differences between what true basketball PROGRAMS can achieve compared to what individual COACHES can achieve.

Are UConn Basketball and Virginia Tech football long-term “programs” because one coach in their history was able to generate success? Did Walt Hazzard and Matt Doherty’s unsuccessful reigns at UCLA and UNC indiate that those programs were not set up for future success?

Of course not.

Wolfpackers need to get excited about the future!!! NC State’s tradition, facilities, fan support, position in the ACC and historical success (1940-1990) creates a COMPLETE PROGRAM that has so many innate and inherent advantages that it will be difficult for the program NOT to be more successful in the future than it has in the last 16 years.

Fans need to never forget the accurate historical context of Herb Sendek’s decade of NC State Basketball:

* In the history of NC State Basketball, only one coach (named Les Robinson) was less successful than Herb Sendek.

* In the history of NC State Basketball, four different coaches…every coach not named Robinson or Sendek…won at aleast one ACC Championship.

* In the history of Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball, 17 coaches have been provided the opportunity to coach for at least 10 years and only one of those coaches clearly compiled a worse performance than Herb Sendek.

I am not concerned about the future of the NC State Basketball Program because of our past. Not its recent past, of course; but the long term past is a clear indicator of what the program truly can be.

NC State claims 10 ACC Championships and 2 NCAA Championship. In 1987, only 7 other programs had won more basketball games than our program. Of course things have changed significantly since then. But, the only thing that has changed has been NC State’s standards and performance, not our program’s core strengths and advantages. In fact, with the addition of the RBC Center and the Dail Practice facility our core resources have actually IMPROVED!

Only two programs have more ACC Titles than NC State; only 12 other programs have as many or more National Titles. But, NC State won those two national championships with two different coaches.

Only 7 schools in college basketball history have won multiple NCAA Titles with more than one coach.

A flash in the pan program wins a national title with one coach. A great coach can win mulitple national titles at one school. But, only GREAT PROGRAMS can win national championships with multiple coaches.

If you REALLY want to know what most experts innately understand about NC State’s program then take yourself back just a couple of days and read the pieces written when John Calipari was being considered for the job. I know that it is painful, but think about it.

Suddenly, all of the national and local media had no problem talking about what NC State could be. They were going so far as predicting what NC State was going to be. Suddenly everyone seemed to recognize that NC State was going to be a national power. Suddenly, many people were experiencing revelations that State won’t play Duke and Carolina in the NCAA Tournament unless we all make the Final Four.

This wasn’t all because of the name John Calipari. This was because of the match between Calipari and NC STATE. We may not have Calipari, but we still have one half of that equation. The media and the public were able to visualize the addition of a successful coach to what NC State’s program already has in place. If Calipari was being discussed in relation to the Clemson job? or the Virginia Tech job? or any of about 300 other jobs in Division One jobs, the visualization of the future would not have been so grandiose.

The next basketball coach at NC State will not have the name Barnes or Calipari. But, regardless of their willingness to admit it, or their ability to accurately express it – the world understands that the next basketball coach at NC State will have some amazing resources at their disposal to legitimately elevate State’s program BACK into the Top 20.

NC State has everything that is needed to be significantly more successful than Herb Sendek’s tenure of the last decade. (Everything to this point except for proactive and strong management of the program.) I just can’t believe that it took a Tarheel to help all of you feel good about the recent changes.

General Media NCS Basketball Required Reading

55 Responses to Why You Need to Be FIRED UP!

  1. Jeff 04/14/2006 at 9:25 AM #

    The following are selected highlights from Matt Rehm’s piece today (please note that these are selected paragraphs from the article that were chosen and are not meant to be presented as if this was the article:

    Even though they opted for “One Heartbeat,” I think the official motto of N.C. State basketball over the past five years should have been “It Is What It Is.” Bring in recruiting classes largely consisting of guys on the fringe of the top 100, get pounded in rivalry games against Duke and UNC, end up around fourth in the ACC, go to the NCAA Tournament, fall well short of the Final Four, rinse and repeat.

    If (Sendek) had been able to relate to N.C. State’s fans a little better, if he had made a run to the Final Four, if he had won an ACC title, if he were about to bring in a monster recruiting class like the one Roy Williams has assembled, Sendek might not have needed to flee to the Valley of the Sun, where he’ll be subjected to less heat. He had a decade to accomplish those things. He couldn’t do it, so his fresh start is for the best, both for him and for N.C. State.

    At most schools — Arizona State, for example — finishing in the top half of the conference, making annual trips to the NCAA Tournament and keeping players’ names out of the police blotter is probably enough.

    N.C. State is not like most schools. N.C. State has a proud basketball history, but that’s what it is: history, with the potential for a bright future. The present isn’t much to write home about.

    Under Everett Case, N.C. State was the dominant program in the ACC, winning 10 conference championships and beating North Carolina 21 times over a span of 22 meetings. But that was a long, long time ago, and the Wolfpack’s past 20 seasons have been highlighted by a pair of Sweet 16 trips (1989 and 2005). Obviously, having Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams just down the road makes it one of the toughest jobs in Division I, but Herb Sendek going 3-21 against the Blue Devils and 0-6 against the Tar Heels since Williams’ return was too much to tolerate — the last straw coming with the young Tar Heels’ 95-71 win in Raleigh a couple of months ago, when the ‘Pack appeared to give up.

    N.C. State’s fans, whose howls contributed to Sendek’s decision to accept a significantly more lucrative deal at Arizona State, have been widely criticized as impatient and irrational by coaches and most of the national media. Not by me, though. After enduring 16 years of frustration since Jim Valvano’s resignation, I think the fans have been through enough.

    Sendek had ample time to put a signature accomplishment on his resume but remained mired in mediocrity. Ten years, no Elite Eights, no ACC Tournament titles, no ACC regular-season titles. Only one other coach in ACC history (Bill Gibson, at Virginia from 1964-73) in league history had kept his job so long with so little to show for it.

    If Maryland can win the national title and Georgia Tech can reach the championship game in the past few years, N.C. State doesn’t have to be perennially stuck in the slow lane on Tobacco Road.

    Even if he had stayed in Raleigh for another 10 years, I can’t imagine Sendek ever would have brought N.C. State back to that level. In that sense, taking a run at Rick Barnes and John Calipari was worthwhile, even though the ‘Pack came up empty. This is an athletic department with the wherewithal to put together a $2 million annual offer; of course it should pursue a coach with a household name. You miss all of the shots you don’t take, right?

    So for the good of N.C. State — which is to say, for the good of the ACC — let’s hope Lee Fowler hires somebody who can return N.C. State to its former stature. Sendek’s apologists can be satisfied with, “It is what it is.” I’ll welcome N.C. State’s new coach (whoever he is) to the ACC and say, “It’s about time.”

  2. jamieinkorea 04/14/2006 at 9:34 AM #

    Excellent. I feel better already! Go Pack!

  3. steve 04/14/2006 at 9:43 AM #

    That was a great article, and Jeff makes some really good points about the history of our program.

    I have several friends and acquaintances who have had a chicken little mentality about getting rid of Herb. I understand to a point, since I’m not generally a big risk-taker. There’s always a chance that we hire the wrong person.

    But if Herb is as good as they claim, shouldn’t the program be in great shape for someone new to come in and take over? I think so. I’m grateful to Sendek for this (even if it did take too long for him to move on).

    There is NO REASON the next coach cannot be successful. In fact, when he is hired, I predict he will publicly thank Herb for the state of the program he will inherit.

  4. Jeff 04/14/2006 at 9:46 AM #

    I can’t post this on Pack Pride because I refuse to get sucked into it…and because I am dead.

    But, I was hoping that someone would link it up over there because I was speaking to most of their alarmist posters. Perhaps you tease with the following quote:

    “A flash in the pan program wins a national title with one coach. A great coach can win mulitple national titles at one school. But, only GREAT PROGRAMS can win national championships with multiple coaches.”

    It would be appreciated. Thanks!

  5. BobLee 04/14/2006 at 9:47 AM #

    Something he said triggered what could have been a classic line about Herb’s leaving …

    “Herb Sendek is the first guy to ever move to Phoenix to GET AWAY FROM “the heat”.”

    I wish I had thought of that one two weeks ago.


  6. 74Pack 04/14/2006 at 9:49 AM #

    Jeff: Well done, and really puts things in perspective!
    At the risk of going tangential (and if you don’t want to go down this path, pull my post), I have a question. Is there any merit in looking at NBA assistant coaches and/or WNBA head coaches as possible candidates? If not, please explain your reasoning.

  7. BJD95 04/14/2006 at 9:54 AM #

    I wish I was as optimistic as Jeff. On one hand, I DO think the next coach will be mathematically likely to have more success than Herb Sendek (at least more likely to do better as opposed to doing worse).

    But the Calipari part of the equation WAS important. It would have given us the INSTANT credibility we needed. There are no “A list” guys left. Now, the new guy can ultimately (with hard work and over time) EARN that national credibility, but I don’t think it’s a sure thing or will happen right away. Fortunately, as Jeff alludes, assuming the hire isn’t a disaster like John Brady, the fans will rally to the cause, and the coach will have everything in place (institutionally) that he needs.

    Still, we needed to roll the dice. Accepting Sendek’s “B-minus” results and being satisfied with pretty good DEFINITELY wasn’t going to get us where we needed to be.

  8. Jeff 04/14/2006 at 9:55 AM #


    I think that a potentially successful coach could come from anywhere. But, I think that any potential candidates really need to have “relevant” college basketball experience. Preferably recent experience. I see no connection between a WNBA coach and college basketball. (Like Bill Lambier).

    College basketball recruiting is about having a base. Having a network. Having contacts. Particularly needing to “fit” the region of the country that your school is located since your base of recruiting will be local.

    If you are trying to subtly ask about PJ Carlesimo (NBA Assistant), then I would offer that I would not at all be against considering & analyzing what PJ offers against those of Haith-Gillispie-Marshall.

  9. NCSU94GRAD 04/14/2006 at 9:59 AM #

    Excellent piece….someone on this blog made a good point the other day about the old “Applause Meter” at Reynolds and the excitment it generated when the top “red” light came on. I think we need that in a coach…a “Red Light” coach. Don’t know who its going to be but that is the type we need.

  10. Pack92 04/14/2006 at 10:01 AM #

    That was an excellent article. I was afraid to say anything about it! I would say one thing about the coaching search – Big risk, big reward. We have been shot down by 2 “big names” so again I ask why not the Haith/Gillespie/fill-in-the-blank? Way to go Jeff!

    I am fired up!

  11. BoKnowsNCS71 04/14/2006 at 10:06 AM #

    The link in the article to the picture of Herb dancing was when Slappy and whoever used to get TV time doing a hip-hop dance in the stands. Herb trying to do it was the most embarassing moment I ever saw.

    Sure everyone should loosen up and have a sense of humor but when Herb did it — it was just ……pitiful…

    The second worse thing Iver saw was a girl who made her boyfriend go buy party hats for her cats to wear on their birthday — but the dance was worse.

    We’ll get a good coach.

    As for hiring another ACC team’s coach — I can recall when Frank MCGuire left UNC to take the job at South Carolina (then in the ACC). It wasn’t popular but created some great rivalries.

  12. Tired in Florida 04/14/2006 at 10:12 AM #

    …..good post Jeff and my initial reaction was just like yours when I read Matt’s article – “Geez – it’s by a Tar Heel!!!”…..but yours go further…..it ties a rich past to a potentially very bright future while trying to get everyone to blot out the nightmare years by giving them the statistical reasons to….and FWIW this post will be passed along to all my friends here in the Sunshine State who don’t understand why I get so worked up during BB season and wanted to get rid Sendek – thanks…..

  13. Mr O 04/14/2006 at 10:13 AM #

    Jeff: There are always looking different ways of looking at things. For example, you think some people “selectively” look at Herb’s five best seasons.

    I selectively looked at Herb’s last 5 seasons. They just happened to also be his best. They are more relevant than his first five seasons, because they were his most recent seasons. Recent history is much more relevant that history from further back. Additionally, there was a significant change that happened in year 4 in terms of recruiting and then in year 5 in terms of the offensive system he employed.

    IMO, that is why most people looked Herb’s last five years. It was just by chance that they were also his best.

    SFN: Bullshit. If Herb would have had a great year 3, then people would be talking about “five of his last seven years”. Stop looking back. Look forward. Or move to Arizona.

  14. Ben 04/14/2006 at 10:20 AM #


    Why are you so down on Whitt? I always enjoy reading your analysis and would like to hear why you believe Whitt shouldn’t even be mentioned.

    I see his accomplishments more than Haith’s and equal, if not better than, Marshall. I make these statements based on the programs that Whitt took over and where he got them to in a matter of 3 years. I don’t need to go into what he has accomplished as I’m sure you are already aware. I would just like to hear you spell out why you are against Whitt for this job and not against a Marshall or Haith.

    I would love Gillespie but it looks like the AD at A&M just sweetened his deal to almost match Barnes’ deal.

    Btw, this article is a very good read. I’m also glad to see you starting another classy and well informed NC State site. Keep up the good work. It’s hard to believe you’ve been doing this for ~10 yrs. Wow!

    SFN: Our opinion re: Whitt is that about 2% of State fans would even know Whitt’s name had he not attended NC State. That is NO REASON to hire a coach. More on your request for our thoughts on Whitt.

    This entry isn’t about Whitt. Or any other coaches. So, Let’s not take this in a million directions. Thanks for the comments.

  15. Mr O 04/14/2006 at 10:20 AM #

    Additionally, you guaranteed that the pack will….

    …win more than five NCAA Tournament games in the next decade. In fact, if Cedric Simmons stays in Raleigh for another year I will go on record that the Pack will win more than five NCAA Tournament games in the next five seasons (a time period that Sendek played in zero NCAA Tournament games)”

    The next coach isn’t taking over a program on probation with non-ACC players as starters. He would be taking over a program that has a McD AA, several top 50 players, and most everyone else ranked in the top 100. Different programs, different times….the last comment in parenthesis was simply unnecessary.

    SFN: MrO…NC State was FIVE YEARS removed from NCAA Probation when Herb Sendek took over the position. Ohio State has been under NCAA scrutiny over the last few years and just signed the #1 recruiting class in the country during the year that they were put on probation. Stop your whining and your excuse mongering and your rationalizing for why it took us longer to rebuild than it took every other successful program who encountered WORSE NCAA problems like Kentucky, Maryland, Louisville, and others.

  16. lakepacker70 04/14/2006 at 10:26 AM #

    With the exception of this past year, we spent every February on the bubble wondering if we were going to even get in the NCAA tournament. I give Herb credit for bringing some stability to the program, but now it is time to go for excellence. What all the “reporters” and talk show junkies, including Packer, do not understand is that we are passionate in our love for the Wolfpack. We are not willing to concede anything to Duke or Carolina. I am proud of the way Fowler is conducting this search and I do not think we have anything to hang our head about in regards to RB or JC. It is their loss. We will succeed. It may take a few years to build to that level, but it is worth the wait. We have waited almost 20 years. I look forward to seeing the third banner in the RBC in a few years.

  17. DC Wuff 04/14/2006 at 10:27 AM #

    “Wow” is all I can say, and it’s really all I have time to say right now. Tremendous article on Sportsline, and great thoughts by Jeff.

  18. Texpack 04/14/2006 at 10:29 AM #

    Frank McGuire left for the NBA and then went to USC later on. My father graduated from State in1950, I graduated in 1984. In between there was David Thompson. The last 16 years have just been awful for me as a State basketball fan. I used to consider the first day of practice “New Years Day”. Hopefully I will feel that way again this fall. I’m just really ready to get something done. The sooner a new coach is in place the better chance we have of keeping Ced and some of the recruits.

  19. JimValvano 04/14/2006 at 10:32 AM #

    We do need to keep Ced, but I’m not convinced that all of Herb’s recruits are all that good. Werner and Horner are really said to be too much alike. The other guy, I think his name is Larry Davis, punched a referee or something in his teams tournament game. I’m not very enthused by the class.

  20. Mr O 04/14/2006 at 10:34 AM #

    After reading your thoughts on our program’s future, I agree with much of what you said. However, I do think college basketball is a lot different than prior to 1990. I think a lot more programs can compete these days on a national level. I think places that were traditionally only successful in football can now be just as successful in football(Florida, LSU, Texas, etc…).

    I think there are a lot more programs that have the same core strengths as NC State and some have advantages like Texas, Florida, etc….flagship universities in heavily populated states with a lot less competition for local kids.

    We can certainly be a great program again, but I think we are more like Va Tech in football and UConn in basketball as opposed to the basketball programs at UCLA and UNC. We won’t succeed on our history and tradition…that was a long time ago unfortunately. But we can succeed if we get the right coach.

    SFN: Definitely agree with most of these points – not the one about VPI & UConn who have only succeeded under the reign of one coach as opposed to four coaches. Many other programs have found ways to elevate themselves into better situations over this time frame – UT, Florida, Utah, UConn, etc. Unfortunately for us, they elevated in part at our expense.

  21. Ben 04/14/2006 at 10:40 AM #

    Thanks for the reply. I disagree with that write up but I will leave it alone on this entry as I agree with you, this entry is not about coaches.

    Thanks for the response.

  22. VaWolf82 04/14/2006 at 10:46 AM #

    But we can succeed if we get the right coach.

    The success or failure of college programs lie directly on the shoulders of the head coach. No one is a good enough recruiter to make up for being a bad bench coach. No one is a good enough coach to win without having great athletes. State needs the entire package in its next coach.

  23. Heels Perspective 04/14/2006 at 10:57 AM #

    Rehm articulates the way that MOST Tar Heels fans truly see the situation. Yea, it’s great to beat you guys, I won’t lie. But I want to go into Raleigh and have the game come down to the last minute……..play you guys in the ACC Tourney Final, stuff like that. I know you enjoyed beating UNC during the “8-20” year, but I can’t imagine it was as good as beating Dean’s teams or when you guys beat one of Roy’s teams???

    I will in the next couple of years have a vested interest in the NC State (kid wants to go to State, she’s already in Kay Yow’s camps).

  24. Mr O 04/14/2006 at 11:01 AM #

    SFN: I certainly don’t need lectures from people on this site. I thought part of this blog’s purpose was to discuss different viewpoints and opinions.

    Where did I say that we shouldn’t have rebuilt quicker? My only point was that you don’t have to be a genuis to predict the next coach will win more NCAA games than Herb did in his first five years because of the programs they tookover.

    Thad Matta has had a great recruiting class. He also had a lot of things working in his favor. The NBA made a new rule last year that made Greg Oden ineligible for the NBA draft in which he would have been the number 1 pick. Without that rule, would Oden be going to Ohio St? Matta did get Mike Conley Jr. who was Oden’s AAU teammate. Mike Conley Sr. was Oden’s AAU coach. Other than that he got two guys from Ohio and a JUCO from Fla.

    Ohio St.’s recruiting class is more the exception rather than the rule. Heck, it could be one of the best in the history of college basketball. However, I do agree that we should have expected a quicker turnaround from Herb Sendek even though I never commented otherwise.

  25. NCSU4LIFE 04/14/2006 at 11:11 AM #

    One question to Wolfpack fans.

    Would you rather have a top notch basketball program that has an chance for the weet 16, elite 8, final 4 every year? With a football program that is respectable but does not get into a BCS and we settle with a 5-6 6-5 record every year? My vote goes for the top notch basketball program. We need to get back in that mode of being a top notch basketball program and a decent mediocre football team. Hell our football team at best is mediocre now. Yet we have spent the past few years concentrating on football and pumping tons of money into it.

    As I have stated before we are a basketball university.

    Jeff: We have spent the last few years pumping money into football because we already pumped all the money into basketball!

    What else were supposed to build for basketball? We already have one of the nicest arena’s in the country. We now have one of the best practice facilities in the country. What else could we focus on from the basketball side? What is left to spend money on in basketball?

    That is why the coach is so important! We have the tools to succeed at a higher level than we have been succeeding. Now we are indicating that we are willing to pay for more

Leave a Reply