David Glenn spent some time de-briefing the NC State coaching search in a couple of different places over the last week that I thought would be worth linking. We’ve been pretty busy this week catching up on life (& work) and haven’t had an opportunity to get to some of our commentary yet. Please forgive us.
Glenn’s blog at WRAL this week ran “Sidney Lowe and Stuff.” He starts off by focusing on an interesting topic of how ACC sports (not just NC State) are viewed under a lesser microscope in the more metropolitan areas of the ACC’s footprint.
There wasn’t even a whisper about Lowe or the Wolfpack from Thursday-Monday on sports radio in Beantown, which ranks with Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami and Washington, D.C., as “ACC cities” that follow the conference to various extents but still concern themselves primarily with professional sports. The beloved Red Sox continued their homestand at Fenway Park over the weekend.
In the Globe, Boston’s largest newspaper, the Lowe-NCSU union merited only a single paragraph in Saturday’s editions, then three or four paragraphs (after the press conference) on Sunday. It simply wasn’t treated as big news.
I really don’t think that these comments are meant as swipes at Sidney Lowe or NC State. I doubt that Paul Hewitt’s hire at Georgia Tech, Skip Prosser’s at Wake Forest, or Dave Leitao’s hire at Virginia generated significant media coverage in some of these markets, either. Additionally, Lowe’s announcement could not have been planned any worse to achieve attention from the broad media. (Surely that doesn’t surprise you from NC State’s savvy media relations?).
The media disaster that is NC State Athletics has set Loweâ€™s press conference for Saturday evening at 5:30pm. Thatâ€™s correct – Saturday, when the school can get the absolute least amount of free publicity and impact in the news cycle as possible. The 5:30 PC also falls right after the Carolina Hurricanesâ€™ second round playoff game at the RBC Center. The post time of the 2006 Kentucky Derby is at 6pm on Saturday. Loweâ€™s hire will sneak onto the back page of most newspapers in the country on Sunday morning.
If you have a premium subscription to the ACC Area Sports Journal then you can access May 2nd’s, MAINSTREAM MEDIA MISSED SOME INTERESTING ASPECTS OF NCSU COACHING SEARCH. This piece is long but hits a lot of topics, including names that were contacted to information about the non-conversations with Phil Ford, to broader commentary discussing some of the academic issues of recruiting to ACC schools (especially those in the state of North Carolina).
At Memphis, generally speaking, the coaching staff could sign and enroll anyone who met basic (GPA, SAT) NCAA minimums. The Tigers even could sign non-qualifiers, who under NCAA rules must sit out a year and meet certain academic guidelines during that year before becoming eligible during their second year on campus, at the earliest.
State abides by the ACC rule against non-qualifiers, and the school (as part of the UNC system) also has several requirements that are higher than those of the NCAA. For example, starting this fall, all UNC-system schools will require at least two units of foreign language. (The NCAA requires none.) UNC-system schools also now require four units of math and three of science. The NCAA requires only two math and two science units.
“Those are important differences,” the ACC coach said. “Can you imagine recruiting a star player, and Memphis tells him he can take so-and-so classes as a senior, and you have to tell him that he still needs calculus and physics? Hell, yes, that matters. Many kids are thinking about basketball and girls going into their senior year, and the last thing they want to hear from you is that they have to take difficult classes that this team over here is telling them they don’t have to take.”
UPDATE: Interesting information from Glenn in the “comments” section of his blog:
Answers to questions:
(1) My personal grade for Lee Fowler in this search — assuming you mean the process itself moreso than merely the final result — would be a C-.
He didn’t panic when others did, and he ended up with a decent final result (considering the remaining alternatives), but some of the missteps along the way were embarrassing and avoidable. Well-orchestrated searches simply don’t fall into the traps that this one did.
(2) Larry Harris was easy to lure back because his children are here in North Carolina, and he enjoyed his previous 10 years with the Wolfpack. He’s also making about the same money he made under Herb Sendek.
(3) To the Lee Fowler Fan Club: Are you kidding me? If you think I’ve been unfair to Fowler during this process, you epitomize the idiot fan who doesn’t pay attention, then blames the media for all of his or his favorite team’s problems, even though you didn’t pay attention to the coverage along the way.
Let’s see … while most others have ridiculed Fowler for his pursuit of Rick Barnes, mainly because those critics claim the Wolfpack never had even the slightest chance of getting Barnes, I have defended Fowler repeatedly on that decision because I KNOW that Barnes has always been intrigued by State and at one point in April was very close to taking the job. I’ve written a lot about that.
Let’s see … out of the hundreds of people who covered this search, who offered the first and most detailed explanations of some of the “hidden factors” (UNC system academic requirements, UNC system policy of guaranteeing only base salary, etc.) that were tying Fowler’s hands? That would be ME! As a basic test, I’d say that my articles on that stuff, while most others were ignoring it or were unaware of it, were OVERLOADED with fairness to Fowler. I personally brought to light things that were complicating Fowler’s job in ways very few knew about. That’s unfair?!
Let’s see … Indiana and other schools knew enough FROM THE START to stay away from John Beilein because of his buyout, despite their high interest in him as a candidate for their jobs. It was already in media reports, PRIOR TO the start of the Wolfpack’s search! Give me a break! Suffice it to say: If you like Fowler — and I count myself in that group — you’ll be best-served to talk as little as possible about the Beilein/Lavin chapters of this search. They were embarrassing and avoidable and examples of the “worst” of this search. There were some good things, too, and you certainly can focus on those if you want.
Criticism is fine (and often helpful) but for crying out loud at least pay attention before you take ignorant, misinformed potshots — at the media, coaches, athletic directors or anyone else. Message boards are a much more welcoming place for that stuff, if you really need to get it out of your system.