Lee Fowler’s Present Situation

Just a few quick thoughts on Lee Fowler (keep the comments in the “open thread”).

It seems to me that Fowler is in a bit of a quandary at this point in the search. He has gone so far out on a limb to make a “name” hire that I’m not sure he can back off. See this mostly solid article from Mike DeCourcy, for more elaboration regarding Fowler’s seemingly monolithic hunger for a “name.”

As I noted a few weeks ago, once Barnes and Calipari said no, I thought it would have been best to move on quickly a guy who would say “yes.”

The other authors on this blog agreed with this to the point that our conversations just naturally moved to the “next tier” at the time (see our April 13th entry). Maybe that means a mid-major guy like Marshall or Turgeon, maybe a guy with special interest in NC State like Sidney Lowe (since Whitt is apparently not to be considered, per orders of the Chancellor).

Certainly that^ approach made more sense than flailing around with B-list guys with “names” but clear impediments to being hired without the upside to justify the risks involved (Lavin and Beilein).

After John Calipari turned down NC State, Lee Fowler made a conscious decision to continue the ‘big game hunt’ when it was not the natural next step in the search. By unrelentingly choosing the course of a “name”, it leads one to question whether Fowler’s motivated (at least in part) by the desire for personal validation or what is necessarily “best for NC State”?

These two items do not have to be inter-related — Hiring a “Lavin” may have generated some media buzz and looked good for Lee Fowler’s short term resume, but did anybody really believe that Steve Lavin was the best thing for NC State?

Had Fowler been more committed to his job through the last six years (not to mention the last 45 days) perhaps he would have been prepared enough to know names like Mark Turgeon, Billy Gillispie, Dennis Felton, Frank Haith, John Pelphrey and some others that might have been perfect fits. He definitely should have been much further down the line in conversations with these types of candidates by that point in the process. Currently, most of those names are no longer available to NC State not because of our job, but because of the public situation that Fowler has created in his shotgun approach search and because many of them have chosen to sign contract extensions in the interim. (Why does Lee and Les constantly tell us that “timing” doesn’t matter during this search if we are slowly disqualifying potentially good candidates because of our delays?)

Apparently, Wilmington-Star reporter Andrew Jones has similar thoughts. He reportedly statedon 1090 am this morning that he doesn’t believe Fowler will consider hiring someone he could have had weeks ago. It also bears mention how Fowler has abandoned his previous (and laudable) discipline in avoiding media comments, and is defending himself (to limited avail) in the press. I worry that these are the actions of a man who has lost control of the situation and is no longer acting rationally.

Now – that said, I do think that Fowler has one or two more chances to hit a “home run.” And if he does so, we will be the first to lavish him with the praise he will have earned for walking the tightrope successfully. After all, we are State fans far more strongly than Fowler critics. But he simply can’t afford to swing and miss in public again.

Good luck, Lee.