Fair Thought…Wrong Reason

As we stated in one of our biggest and best entries of the summer:

Over the next couple of weeks SFN will have some entries focusing on the tough summer that Chuck Amato is having in the national media.

Then we went on to defend Coach Amato to TSN based on the incorrect premise and (lack of) reasoning in their blog entry. (Update: NC State now has EIGHT football commitments for the February signing period. EVERY ONE is from the State of North Carolina)

Similarly, Inspin.com – whose lead headline this morning spells the word “ALWAYS” as “ALWASYS” – has run a piece on the most underachieving college football coaches in America. (Link) Inspin takes the easy way out, however, in their ‘analysis’:

Chuck Amato, North Carolina State: The short version of justifying the selection is this: The Wolfpack had three NFL first-round picks on their squad last season, yet managed to lose five games. It appears Amato’s success at NC State was directly tied to former quarterback Philip Rivers. Amato and Rivers arrived in Raleigh at the same time and compiled a 34-17 record in four years — good but not great. In the two years since Rivers’ departure, the Wolfpack are 12-11. The results on the field do not reflect the highly rated recruits that Amato has been attracting. After a No. 34 class in the Rivals.com rankings in 2002, State was No. 7 in 2003, No. 28 in 2004 and No. 27 in 2005. Recruits may have figured out they need to go elsewhere to win since Amato’s 2006 signing class was ranked only No. 54.

As long as you give proper credit to Amato’s overall achievements and definite elevation of the program in the national psyche…I believe that anyone has a case to criticize Chuck Amato for the last three years of underachieving what were relatively fair expectations. Rivers’ senior year (Tangerine Bowl) followed by struggles to get to 5-6 and 6-5 in the subsequent seasons are open for questioning.

HOWEVER, I do NOT think that the popular mantra and lazy proclamation that “State had three NFL first-round picks on their squad last season, yet managed to lose five games” (that started on ESPN on draft day) is the accurate reason to criticize.

The nature of State’s recent talent is actually explained to anyone with a brain in the players that the Wolfpack has sent to the NFL. But, that would require at least a couple of minutes of original thought. All three of State’s first round draft picks, and the large majority of State’s overall picks (Link) were defensive players!

You know…the defense that was ranked #1 in the country in 2004 despite incessantly being on the field because of offensive turnovers…and the defense that was again ranked in the Top 10 in 2006 despite another rash of offensive turnovers in the first half of the season. NC State finished the season 5-1 with the defense allowing around 9 points a game.

When you actually look at the data — how can someone criticize that State’s “talent” underachieved when our talent was almost exclusively a part of one of the nation’s top defenses of the last two years?

Don’t get me wrong, I DO agree that the OVERALL coaching staff deserves some heat/criticism for the underachievement of the last three years. BUT, if you are going to hurl such severe criticism around then you better be able to ACCURATELY analyze and explain your position. This line of (un)reasoning fails miserably.

Chuck Amato General Media NCS Football

47 Responses to Fair Thought…Wrong Reason

  1. CarnifeX 07/12/2006 at 8:49 AM #

    Also I’m interested in the relation between the ranking of the recruiting class and the stars that come out of a program, it seems like a comparison of apples and oranges.

    SFN: Think that you would be surprised. Manny Lawson was an under-recruited, 2-star talent that was a tight end coming out of HS. Our staff made him into a first round draft pick. Similar story for John McCargo. Every single defensive back that has ever started at NC State under Amato has played in the NFL. We set records for NFL picks this past year. The problem does not seem to be the development of individual talent or ‘what comes out of the program’…the problem has been execution by the team in winning enough games to compare to the overall amount of talent.

  2. Dexter 07/12/2006 at 8:52 AM #

    I agree and it just burns me up to see those statements. Defense is only 1/3 of the game. Also, it you must criticize Amato for last year one must also give him credit for this. The team had to win 4 of the last 5 just to hope to go to a bowl game. They did that. Most coaches would have lost their teams, but Amato and Co. kept the guys focused, determined, and believing in themselves. ESPN has become nothing more then a hype machine and has long gotten away from it’s early years and what it was started for.

  3. Dexter 07/12/2006 at 8:57 AM #

    A continuation of my earlier rant:

    Of the 6 draft picks, only 1 was ranked higher then a 3 Star and that was Mario. Depending on which site you look at we either had two or three 3 stars drafted, the rest were lower then that. So about 50% of the players drafted from State were 2 star players out of HS (including 2 in the FIRST ROUND). How about some credit to Amato and Co. for developing talent????

  4. ncsu96 07/12/2006 at 9:19 AM #

    good entry. Our coaching search taught me the lesson don’t overestimate the media, they’re mostly unintelligent and above all lazy. It so much easier to criticize than analyze.

    None of the media reports that criticize us for not winning more mention we had a new defensive coordinator. Or a 2nd year offensive coordinator who threw out the old playbook. Like you all I’m not saying Amato deserves a free pass but at least look at the whole picture…. Jeez!

  5. Clarksa 07/12/2006 at 9:31 AM #

    I remember Coach Amato hauling our defensive line out in front of the team before the Wake game and challenging them to play better. They had not been playing up to their potential, and even though we lost that game (offense threw 2 ints for TD’s), it started the trend of the D-line playing better. Couple that with the change in QB, and the W’s starting showing up.

  6. choppack1 07/12/2006 at 10:11 AM #

    Clarksa – You’re correct on the Wake game. The DL – and Mario in particular, played great.

    You’re not going to get nuanced intelligent criticism from sportswriters these days. They’re not going to give credit to Amato, inc for developing these guys into good players – especially on D.

    Here’s what I’d offer:
    1) In spite of doing a fantastic job in attracting AND developing talent to Raleigh AND beating the last 2 ACC conference champs on the road, Chuck’s teams have posted losing ACC records. A huge factor in that equation has to be the offense, in general and QB play in particular – which has turned the ball over at a rapid pace. It’s worth noting that the wolfpack went 5-1 when the switched to a much more conservative offense in the second half of last year.
    2) How do you explain a team that beats the last 2 ACC conference champs on the road, but loses to Wake Forest and UNC? Chuck has done a great job assembling and developing talent in Raleigh, but has yet to put it all together for a truly special season.

  7. StateFans 07/12/2006 at 10:16 AM #

    ^ All of the points by the authors above this entry are fantastic thoughts and crystallize the issues nicely.

  8. Trout 07/12/2006 at 10:20 AM #

    “It’s worth noting that the wolfpack went 5-1 when the switched to a much more conservative offense in the second half of last year.”

    Will a conservative offense work for us this upcoming season?

  9. choppack1 07/12/2006 at 10:37 AM #

    Trout – I think it might – but this year, we’ll have to do a better job moving the ball. I think we still have the talent to have a Top 25-35 Defense. If our offense can control the ball, not go 3 and out, and not turn it over – I think we’ll be fine. What we can’t do is recreate the BC game. If we play like we did vs. FSU – where I thought our offense was fairly effective – we’ll have a solid season.

  10. Trout 07/12/2006 at 10:38 AM #

    I think we need to average 7-10 points more per game on offense this season to be successful, because our D is going to give up more points than they did last season.

  11. BladenWolf 07/12/2006 at 10:39 AM #

    The sophistication of our offense this year relies on the O-line’s ability to give Stone the time he needs to read the defense and execute the play.

    Trestman has the plays, but the question is, do we have the talent/experience to execute those plays or go back to the conservative playbook, which by the way, looks promising with Brown and Baker’s potential.

  12. BladenWolf 07/12/2006 at 10:43 AM #

    but you’re right…

    we will need to score at least 7-10 more points per game to have a good season.

    the potential for a good season appears to rest with the O-line.

  13. StateFans 07/12/2006 at 10:47 AM #


    Q: Conservative?

    A: Yes

    Q: As conservative as last year?

    A: Probably not.

    BUT…we could be just as ‘conservative’ as last year and still score more points with an improved offensive line and WR corp.

    Additionally, our defense has not scored many points for us at all over the last couple of years.

    So, we COULD be as offensively as last year and still succeed because we would be scoring more points.

    But, we cannot struggle to score points like we did last year and succeed. No way.

  14. Trout 07/12/2006 at 10:51 AM #

    Personally, I dont think the O-line was the problem. It was essentially the same line throwout the year. They simplified the O for Stone, and the results followed.

    Can Stone master the “sophistication” of the offense this year?

    And I find it hard to believe our WRs will be improved this season. We lost Hall, Brian Clark and TJ Williams. I feel good about the Hall replacement (Blackmon), the Williams replacement, but who replaces Clark?

  15. BladenWolf 07/12/2006 at 10:54 AM #


    You’ve hit the nail on the head. No way we come out of this season with a winning record if we struggle with scoring like last year and I would also add that we cannot succeed if we turn the ball over as much as last season.

    I can’t tell you how many curse words I uttered watching the offense cough up the ball on a regular basis. That absolutely killed us.

    Wasn’t turnover’s the reason Brown replaced Baker last year?

  16. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 07/12/2006 at 11:55 AM #

    “Also, it you must criticize Amato for last year one must also give him credit for this. The team had to win 4 of the last 5 just to hope to go to a bowl game.”

    Personally I give the largest credit to Marcus Stone. He carried the team those last 5 weeks and ended the season 5-1. Many of us, without the benefit of seeing anything that the coaches see, felt Stone was a better leader than Davis at the beginning of the season.

    Amato does deserve praise for pulling it together at the end of the season but you have to be ask why was Davis starting when it was clear that Stone was better prepared to be the leader.

  17. graywolf 07/12/2006 at 11:58 AM #

    Last year I said that our OL was in bad shape and needed to be fixed. It seems that some improvement has been made but I will be conviced that this is true when we put points on the board. You can have all the great backs and QB’s you want but without a line they become antiquated at best.
    Where does the blame lie? Yes, its with coaching but I hope that this trend changes this coming season and we see our winning ways return, especially within the conference and most importantly against Carolina.
    Also, great defenses win games but not if you can’t score.

  18. cornellpackfan 07/12/2006 at 12:02 PM #

    A key point that I think all of us are drawing is that NCSU has NOT had a knack for developing offensive players recently, especially on the o-line. I do not think that this deficiency comes from a lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. We have great athleticism on the offense, but we have not recruited well at offensive line even when we had the former UTenn o-line coach. Yet, at the same time we have recruited average to above-average on the d-line. The play that our staff got out of the talent that was present on d-line is impressive, but I think that our staff needs to prove that it can develop these same athletes on the offensive line. No matter what way you look at it, recruiting top o-line prospects is extremely hard with most of them going to the top programs. We either need to become one of those top programs by snagging top offensive linemen or we need to create our own top linemen from marginal talent.

  19. Wolf-n-Atl 07/12/2006 at 12:20 PM #

    Is it that we aren’t developing the talent on the O-line or that we have been plagued by injuries? Also, I know we have had some issues w/ our receivers as well both injuries and missing open catches.

  20. BladenWolf 07/12/2006 at 12:25 PM #


    Very good points. I think the reason for the lack of development on the O-line vs. what we produced on the defensive side rests with the coaching staffs experience. Amato was linebacker coach for Semiholes and played the position at State, so he naturally leans towards that side of the ball.

    But a good head coach knows his weaknesses (tendencies to be figured out by the opposition) and surrounds himself with quality assistants with differing strengths. I thought Amato was well aware of this by having Chow and Holliday on the staff, but the carousel of changing assistants has been troubling and kept that expertise from showing up on gameday.

  21. RAWFS 07/12/2006 at 12:43 PM #


    The O line was headed by Mike Barry. Barry left NC State at the end of last year, and came from UT after five years on Phil Fulmer’s staff. That said, Barry had a good resume, with much it experience. It was good enough to get him a job in the NFL.

  22. RAWFS 07/12/2006 at 12:44 PM #

    “with much it experience.” is typing too fast for “with much experience.”

  23. Tau837 07/12/2006 at 12:45 PM #

    “As long as you give proper credit to Amato’s overall achievements and definite elevation of the program in the national psyche”

    I am as unhappy with the results in the past two years as anyone, but there was a remarkable turnaround in Amato’s first four years. Consider:

    5 years prior to Amato: State was 25-32, including 0-1 in bowl games (lost 1998 Micron PC Bowl)

    4 years with Amato: State was 34-17, including 3-1 in bowl games (won the 2000 Micron PC Bowl, lost the 2001 Tangerine Bowl, won the 2002 Gator Bowl, won the 2003 Tangerine Bowl)

    Now, those 4 years were also with Rivers. I’m quite certain that Amato doesn’t deserve all the credit, but I do think at times too much of the credit is given to Rivers.

    Final point. The last two years have still been better results than we were getting before Amato arrived, as you can see from the data above. Sure, I want more… but I have low expectations this year, so I’m looking at at least 2 more years before passing judgement.

  24. BladenWolf 07/12/2006 at 12:58 PM #


    I wasn’t pointing to anyone in particular on the staff. Just the constant turnover. Mike Barry may have a great resume and may be a decent coach, but what did he accomplish while here? Turnovers? I don’t recall us pushing defenses around while he was here. I even think I pointed out that Amato brought in good assistants to fill the gap. The problem is they don’t stick around too long. But I digress.

    My point was that Amato is a defensive coach, or came from that side of the ball, which could explain why we have not recruited four-five star talent for the O-line.

  25. Heels Perspective 07/12/2006 at 12:59 PM #

    I come in peace and I am NOT a troll. I wish to offer a “perspective” from someone who is fan of another team in the area ;-). I probably do not dislike State nearly as much of you hate the Heels (I actually took my foreign languages in Harrell Hall……)

    Anyway, It seems to me the recent media criticism of State football has it’s roots in the fact that these same media outlets lifted up State football during the Rivers Era. It almost sounds like there is a “backlash” at Amato for not taking the program to the heights many in the media predicted.

    Don’t take it personally State fans, John Bunting has taken his fair share of negative pub, especially during his 2nd and 3rd years when it appeared JB had really ruined all the North Carolina High School football connections built up all these years. Be nice!!!

Leave a Reply