Thank You, Mr. Tudor: Great State Fans

“N.C. State’s fans are among the most patient and loyal in all of college athletics.” That hardly qualifies as breaking news, but it’s worth repeating in the wake of a couple of issues — fans leaving early and the coach’s frank comments.”

As we’ve said many times in the past…when Caulton Tudor gets something right, he usually REALLY gets it right. This morning’s column is a prime example.

As the previous quote suggests, Tudor’s article covers completely two separate issues under the single canopy of great Wolfpack fans – (1) faulty conclusions and criticisms of fans who left Saturday’s game early by some fans and (2) the honesty of Coach Tom O’Brien and the REAL condition of NC State’s football program.

We aren’t going to spend any time commenting on the football part of the column. Tudor (politely) nails the horrible condition that Chuck Amato left NC State’s roster at key positions, including the offensive line that we most recently highlighted with this fantastic piece.

Quickly, I’d like to add a little more to Tudor’s comments:

With their team helplessly behind and enduring heat every bit as unremitting as Clemson’s rushing attack, many State fans left at halftime or during the second half.

The exodus irked some of those who stayed around until the final series or two. There were shouts of “sit back down” and “real fans don’t quit.” Some departing fans were booed by their stadium neighbors.

Most of what happened obviously was the upshot of frustration, but the fans were being entirely too tough on each other in this case. That was particularly true of those seated on the east side of the stadium, where there was no shade from the afternoon sun and 90-degree temperature. A relatively high percentage of those in the east stands were students, who had been forced to wait in line until after the game started just to get through the gates.

Loyalty and devotion to the program, by necessity, became secondary to common sense and sound health for many of the evacuees.

First – I abhor fans who tell others how to think, behave , or “be a real fan”. I look at these folks as the ‘liberals’ of any fan base – they always seem to know better what I SHOULD do with my money, my time, my behavior, my family and my thoughts.

Of course, these are usually the folks who have never once tried to “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” to understand the plight of their fellow fans. Ususally, the people who criticize other fans are the ones that have the easiest life and make minimal sacrifice when compared to the fans that they criticize.

The characteristics are easy to spot – they live in Raleigh, if not very near Carter-Finley; they woke up about 3 hours before the game and rolled into the stadium with little problem; the will be home in 15 minutes with the long remainder of they day in front of them.

It is easy for them to SAY that they would REGULARLY wake in the wee hours of the morning or drive late on Friday night from Richmond, Wilmington, Charlotte, Asheville or further to spend hundreds of dollars on hotels and transportation to sacrifice their entire weekend…yet when given the similar opportunity to travel to College Park, Charlottesville, Atlanta or Clemson to watch the Wolfapck these critical folks always seem to be busy with other things.

(Note: the author of this piece attended approximately twenty NC State home and away football games in a four year period while living in Houston, TX. I chose not to account for all of the expenses that us crazys incur to have the right to make our own personal decisions without being criticized by others.)

Caulton Tudor and the people with whom he interacts regularly travel to watch football (and basketball) all over the country. With that experience, Tudor concludes and regularly states that NC State fans are some of the most loyal, passionate AND PATIENT in the country. I don’t need to think too deeply to realize that the critical yahoo’s to whom he is referring in his article fit the profile that I discussed in this piece last week perfectly.

I like to occassionaly take opportunities to educate and highlight items from athletics programs not named NC State because there are many fans out there who have no idea what athletic are like at other schools. If you haven’t been to many (basketball &/or football) games at a variety of other programs then it is hard to understand where NC State support is both good and bad. Most likely, however, a fan who hasn’t been to many other places would easily take for granted the strong support that both our basketball and football programs receive from Wolfpack fans when compared to other schools.

As Tudor wisely stated:

The more important fact was that the stadium was sold out and most seats filled for a noon game on a sweltering day. The same fans who left early had also made their way through the usual pregame traffic jams. Many were in those same seats throughout a 3-9 record last season and will be back next season even if 2007 ends with a similar record.

Post-Script – As a related comment to the football-side of Tudor’s column where he posits that State’s struggling relies in part on poor quarterback recruiting and development from the previous staff; I submit this quote from Tudor originally written in April of 2005 regarding the importance of a good quarterback to a football team.