A View from the Cheap Seats

Ya’ll know this is all our fault – mine and yours – right?

It’s simple, really. There is a profound dichotomy to the average State fan, a great paradox that makes each of us our own worst enemy: we are intensely loyal…to a fault. As long as we continue to feed this monster, improvement won’t come easy.

We’ve not only allowed the current state to subsist, but even more damnably, we’ve propagated it by donating millions to convert rhetoric into reality. Our administration doesn’t have to be proactive because we’re still giving it our money at record pace.

Make no mistake, I’m pointing at myself here. I’m four years from having my LTRs paid off and I’m unwilling to sacrifice my Section 30 seats and tailgating with my friends to force sweeping changes like many of you did once we grew weary of Mike O’Cain (although I’m quite certain an empty building wouldn’t have gotten Herb Sendek removed in 2001).

We’re a different culture than we were a decade ago, when the discontent and dwindling faith with O’Cain was evidenced by the increasing lack of fan support at Carter-Finley over his final few seasons. Not only was he not beating Carolina, we were averaging 6,648 fewer fans total (note that, like now, Kenan Stadium had a larger capacity). But what should have been more troubling was the fact that with a lower percent capacity, State was averaging 1,488 more empty seats than Carolina, which realistic or not, is the benchmark against which we measure success, right?

At that time, we had not been clamoring for 10-win seasons or New Year’s Day bowls – seven wins each season and home wins over Carolina would no doubt have satisfied a large majority of us at that time. But what O’Cain couldn’t do with seven-win seasons was fill the stadium to capacity each week and increase WPC membership (revenue). As a result, he was unable to create the necessary demand to drive up ticket prices, much less convince boosters to open their pockets to support the athletic department at a time where ambitious expansion plans across the entire program – not just Carter-Finley – were in the works.

The obvious conclusion is that winning will fill the stands. Or perhaps it is nothing more than a basic tenet: fans simply will not open their checkbooks for a guy that doesn’t beat the team they most hate. They will, however, hand over large portions of their disposable income to a guy that convinces them that if they give him their money, good things will indeed happen.

Just the prospect of winning, or even the perception of it, can have a similar effect. Thus, the reason Chuck Amato was such an important hire for State after O’Cain’s dismissal in 1999. While he certainly never delivered on his rhetoric about national prominence, what he did do – and very effectively – was put fans in the stadium and drive fundraising past levels a disgruntled fan base in the 1990s could only imagine. In fact, the more seats we added, the more seats we filled; this surge has even carried over into Tom O’Brien’s tenure, adding further evidence to the importance of having a leader that will no doubt offer a proactive approach to the business of college athletics.

However, in the process of trying to achieve what many term ridiculous aspirations, we built this current monstrosity and now we don’t know how to deal with it. From a financial standpoint, we have an increasingly successful program. And after all, college athletics today is big business, a competitive market of proliferating TV revenues where success in terms of wins and losses is peripheral to success in terms of revenue and market share.

Georgia Tech Athletic Director Dan Radakovich confirmed this after dismissing Chan Gailey in December. According to ESPN.com, he said of the decision: “As far as Xs and Os, Chan is a very good coach. But there’s more to it now. College football is more than just Xs and Os, especially in the competitive market where we are.”

It’s certainly not for us, as State fans, to judge what any other program deems necessary for their own progress. We define our own model of success and we must invariably respect that each fan base has a unique perspective on how to define its own success. What I find interesting, however, is that a program like Georgia Tech has seemingly refused to accept mediocrity even while mired within it. The fan base’s discontent with the direction of Gailey’s program was evidenced every time they played a home game and there were, on average, nearly 3,000 empty seats (see data below).

Firing a coach with Chan Gailey’s credentials could perhaps be considered a bold move by Radakovich. Gailey never once had a losing season or a losing conference record, and he finished with seven regular-season wins in every season except 2004, when he finished 6-5. He led the Yellow Jackets to five bowl games – six, including the one he didn’t coach in 2007. However, he posted an overall losing bowl record of 2-3 mostly in lower-tier bowls. Moreover, in a 12-game season, seven wins is not the steadfast benchmark of consistency that it once was, particularly now that all seven-win and most six-win BCS teams go to a bowl. By comparison, George Welsh, who defined winning consistency in the ACC, having won at least seven games at Virginia 13 consecutive years between 1987 and 1999, was not even rewarded with a bowl berth for three different 7-4 seasons (1988, 1992, and 1997).

In retrospect, Gailey’s tenure in Atlanta was conspicuous for what he didn’t accomplish rather than what he did. He never lost fewer than five games, played for but never won a conference championship, and never played in a BCS bowl. Most importantly, he never beat Georgia.

The grumbling among the fan base began in earnest towards the end of 2006, when Gailey’s Yellow Jackets ended the season with three consecutive losses to Georgia, Wake Forest in the ACC Championship game, and West Virginia in the Gator Bowl. After Gailey’s sixth season – a winning one – and his sixth loss to Georgia, he was out as the head coach at Georgia Tech.

What Radakovich did was act quickly and confidently, which should prove reassuring to the Georgia Tech fan base that he’s incontrovertibly in control. Must be a good feeling.

By all indications, Gailey was fired because Radakovich demonstrates not only a keen understanding of the big business that is college athletics but he also understands completely what his fan base demands. It has become increasingly evident that the Tech fan base is unwilling – certainly it’s capable – to open its pockets in support of a team that will be nothing more than a perennial seven-game winner; unquestionably one that doesn’t beat Georgia. This is a case where perception is driven by reality.

Although Atlanta may be the home to Georgia Tech, the pervasive argument is that while it doesn’t rival the archetypal SEC atmosphere of Auburn, Baton Rouge, Knoxville, Oxford, Tuscaloosa, or above all, Athens, Atlanta is still very much SEC country, often hosting the SEC Championship; more importantly, the Atlanta media is overwhelmingly pro-Georgia.

Tech faces a handicap in this regard, but it is obviously not a reality Radakovich or the Ramblin’ Wreck faithful show a willingness to accept. This defiance has shown itself on Saturdays for the past few years. Not only could Gailey not defeat Georgia on the field, he was unable to get fans excited enough to even come to the games. Georgia Tech’s apathy is seemingly common knowledge to anyone that has seen the many empty seats – surprisingly, the many empty gold field-side seats – at Bobby Dodd any given Saturday.

Evidenced by the NCAA’s official attendance figures, Georgia Tech simply does not measure up when compared to its chief rival, Georgia. Demand for Georgia football is soaring, while the data suggests that apathy has taken root in Atlanta.

Both Bobby Dodd and Sanford Stadiums have undergone major renovations since 2002. According to GeorgiaDogs.com, the official athletics website for Georgia, Sanford Stadium underwent a total of $33 million in 2003 and 2004 while RamblinWreck.com, the official source for Georgia Tech athletics, reports that Bobby Dodd Stadium underwent a total of $75 million (this figure also includes the Russ Chandler Stadium for baseball). However, only Georgia contended nationally in total attendance during Gailey’s tenure, having ranked fifth on average, behind Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, and Ohio State from 2003 to 2007 (they ranked just behind LSU in 2002 before Sanford Stadium’s 2003 expansion was complete).

Overall, Georgia Tech not only doesn’t compete in total attendance but struggles also to match Georgia in filling up its stadium each week. On average, Georgia totals 41,466 (83%) more in attendance, which indicates a much greater demand overall for a Georgia football ticket; this is actually quite obvious to anyone that comprehends the cultural difference between SEC and ACC football.

Upon closer inspection of the data, however, the apathy is revealed. During Gailey’s tenure, Tech averaged only 94.5% total capacity, which translates to 2,993 empty seats for each home game, while down the road in Athens, there is a fan in every seat without problems; in fact, Georgia has the opposite problem of demand surpassing supply. While overall attendance at Bobby Dodd is up from 2002 – remember, capacity increased by nearly 21% in 2003 – most telling about the increased apathy of the fan base is the fact that not only did attendance fall each year of Gailey’s tenure after the 2003 expansion, percent capacity fell as well, from 98.7% in 2002 to a mere 91.4% in 2007. This translates to the aforementioned 2,993 empty seats every home game.

Frankly, Georgia Tech doesn’t need a bigger stadium or a larger fan base to be successful; in fact, they have had brief periods of prominence within the past 20 years, having split the national title with Colorado in 1990 (by contrast, Georgia’s last national title was in 1980). What Georgia Tech does require, however, is a fan base that not only fills the seats but also spends its money with more energy.

Radakovich understands this and dismissed Gailey based on his inability to drive Tech fans to do exactly this.

State and Tech are similar in many regards; our cultures are akin and we both experience an inconsistency with local and regional media coverage — most notably, the recent treatment by local, regional, and national medias concerning our coaching situation: Carolina was applauded for replacing Doherty with Williams after three short years of mediocrity while we were villified for “running off” Sendek after eleven years of mediocrity.

But our leadership styles sharply contrast: I have to wonder, had a similar scenario presented itself in Raleigh – say, consistent 20-win seasons, five straight postseason appearances, mediocre fan attendance, a disgruntled and disjointed fan base, and the inability to beat our primary rival – what would Lee Fowler have done?

My guess: absolutely nothing. And then when that change had been unexpectedly forced upon him, he would have proven miserably inept and short of the task.

(For the record, I will go to my grave believing that Rick Barnes would be our coach today had Lee Fowler not handled that search – nothing anyone could tell me, including Barnes himself, will ever convince me otherwise; unreasonable, perhaps, but I am a State fan, after all.)

Watching Radakovich act quickly, assuredly, and arguably smoothly to make necessary changes is perplexing for many of us among a fan base that has endured what we have felt has been an often oblivious while seemingly impervious administration that lags in making progressive changes, preferring instead a reactive approach that often comes long after we have grown exceedingly disgruntled.

Radakovich could likely have been patient for one more year, and it is unlikely he would have come under too much criticism. Instead, he made a proactive decision with the expectation that the next coach will advance the Georgia Tech program before the fans have lost faith. This suggests that while Georgia Tech struggles, they have yet to become complacent with not competing at or above the level of either the rest of the ACC or more precisely, Georgia.

Meanwhile, the party line from our A.D., the local media, and the local talking heads is that we have unrealistic expectations if we think we should ever be able to compete with the storied Carolina and Duke. We’re unrealistic, impatient, and insatiable. Just don’t forget to send in your WPC dues!

We’ve been told to aspire to prominence but just as quickly chastised for having expected it within a reasonable time frame. Shame on us for having unrealistic expectations and shame on us for shelling out millions to make them reality.

Hopefully someone out there has the solution.


NCAA.com Attendance Data

Georgia Tech 2002-2007 (Bobby Dodd Stadium)
Year……..Official……Capacity…….% Capacity……..National Rank

Georgia 2002-2007 (Sanford Stadium)
Year……..Official……Capacity…….% Capacity……..National Rank

NC State 2000-2007 (Chuck Amato & Tom O’Brien)
Year……..Official……Capacity…….% Capacity……..National Rank

NC State 1995-1999 (Mike O’Cain)
Year……..Official……Capacity…….% Capacity……..National Rank

North Carolina 2000-2007 (Kenan Stadium)
Year……..Official……Capacity…….% Capacity……..National Rank

North Carolina 1995-1999 (Kenan Stadium)
Year……..Official……Capacity…….% Capacity……..National Rank

*In both 1998 and 1999, State vs. Carolina was in Charlotte, which in all likelihood would have been a capacity game for each stadium; Kenan in 1998 and Carter-Finley in 1999.

About LRM

Charter member of the Lunatic Fringe and a fan, loyal to a fault.

AD & Department Fans General NC State Administration NCS Football

68 Responses to A View from the Cheap Seats

  1. Trip 03/26/2008 at 1:59 PM #

    I wish there was some statistic on the average % of NC State graduates that give after they graduate and how much they give. I’d be willing to bet that graduates from 2005-2008 give on average a whole lot less than people that graduated during the Phillip Rivers/Julius Hodge winning days. I was all excited about being able to graduate in 2009 next year because that means that I’d be able to give back to the university for all the fun and education that they gave me and hopefully grab some nice seats.

    After going to every home game this year with those badass student seats and watching the apathy and lack of passion on the court I’m not sure I want to do that anymore. Why should I donate if the people that I’m donating to don’t give a crap? I realize that most of it probably goes to the other athletes that aren’t on tv, but we’re pretty piss-poor in all of those as well even with some of the best facilitys in the nation. I’m just wondering if this is a common thing with other graduates from recent classes.

    As far as what to do? It’s simple. Stop giving, or never start in my case. Too bad that’s hard to do because even though it’s all because of Fowler, it’ll be taken out of the funding for equipment, facilitys and what-not, not out of Fowler’s paycheck. At least not until we start seeing some red ink on the papers.

  2. wufpup76 03/26/2008 at 2:20 PM #

    Very nice entry w/ good data … underscores the attitudes of those in charge of our athletics teams, and I’m including the people who can REALLY make things happen – the big bucks people

  3. LRM 03/26/2008 at 2:24 PM #

    Giving is by no means a black and white issue because it’s as much based on convenience, personal priorities, and personal finances as much as anything. I’m by no means advocating that anyone stop donating anything because not only am I unwilling to do it, but it’s a personal decision for everyone.

    I have LTRs for football but I only go to a few basketball games each year; I enjoy tailgating and going to the football games. I prefer to watch basketball games on TV, partly due to personal preference and partly because even living in Cary, getting to weeknight games isn’t usually convenient for me.

    I also have friends that don’t donate and I have friends that gave up their LTRs because their priorities changed. They’re still fans that want to see State win as badly as anyone else that shells out, say, millions.

    Wendell Murphy isn’t a bigger, better fan because he has the ability to donate millions to the program while I can only afford the minimum levels. Unfortunately, his opinion counts and mine never will.

  4. WineDineDesign09 03/26/2008 at 2:30 PM #

    I have lurked on this blog basically since coming to State in ’04. Having never experienced any sort of success beyond one Sweet Sixteen, and seeing the laziness and willingness to accept mediocrity of our administration, I am fully prepared to not pay for season tickets or LTR’s or to join the WPC until Lee Fowler (and possibly Oblinger) are replaced by competent leaders with a vision for NC State.

    I love NC State and on the one hand I want to support them, but I feel like any money I give will be going down the tubes if the people in charge currently stay in charge.

    I hope that other students who will be graduating in recent years will think twice about plugging money into the culture of mediocrity built by our AD.

  5. ChuckAllYall 03/26/2008 at 2:56 PM #

    Great read LRM,

    I think you make some excellent points, especially about State fans being our own worst enemies. We’ve been so brainwashed into believing that pumping out our money toward improved facilities will translate into on field success and that’s simply not true. It’s like Chuck and Lee pulled the wool over our eyes knowing we are so hungry for a winner that we’d do whatever it takes to get there. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that facilities are not important. I’m saying that they are not the only component necessary in building a successful PROGRAM. To build a successful program it takes leadership. Leadership that starts at the top and works its way through the ranks. Leaders willing to take the time and energy to do their homework. Bring the right people in, move the wrong ones out. Yes, that means even fire some people if necessary. A leader has got to have a little fire in his belly and not be content with the status quo. Ideally these leaders will mirror the fanbases passion and encourage it with thoughtful and well executed decisions in the best interest of the athletics program and university, not scold those fans like unruly children with unrealistic expectations. “We’ll gladly take all of your money, but don’t expect immediate results…these things take time you know.” How much time??? Five years? Ten years? Is twenty years enough? Just let us know, we’re used to waiting…… I’m getting so pissed right now I don’t even know if I’m being sarcastic anymore. Anyways, enoughs enough for crying out loud. Can’t a long overdue call for change begin at the grassroots level anymore?

  6. GAWolf 03/26/2008 at 3:13 PM #

    It’s also partly our fault that we set ourselves up for failure by buying into our own hype machine. Because we’re so loyal and also so desperate for a return on the investment, we cling to anything that suggests that the same is just around the corner. Unfortunately that means we as a fan base promote our own frustrations by putting too much hope in what tomorrow might bring based on skewed data and overblown fact.

    Now I’m not saying the above data is skewed or overblown, but rather I’m talking about our hype of teams that just aren’t as good as we would like to think they are.

    Also, I’ve stood on the field between the hedges in Athens to watch a couple of games and I’ve been to probably 50 games in there. While I hope this is false, I think it’s fair for me to say there is a magic in the air in Athens on game day that we’ll never have here no matter how much success we enjoy in the future.

    There’s something to being in downtown, being on campus, being in the SEC, being in a state where football is king and being around lifelong rabid fans that were raised with all of the above that we simply cannot reproduce given the hand we’ve been dealt.

    However, just the fact that our fan support comes closest to that which is in Athens considering the history and tradition of their program… I think that is simply phenomenal.

    LRM: It’s not unreasonable at all to suggest that there’s nothing we could ever do to match the SEC’s aura — it’s a difference in cultures, without question. But they’ll never have basketball on Tobacco Road, either, so it’s a push.

  7. b 03/26/2008 at 3:22 PM #

    Great post. Fowler and his cronies are on the flip-sdie of the coin from Radakovich. Rather than risk any further damage to the attendence/contributions, Radakovich acts in a PRE-EMPTIVE manner.

    Fowler is basically challenging us, he doesn’t make any changes because the customers are still coming out. He is not only taking advantage of our loyalty, he is doing so with absolute disdain for any customer feedback. Fowler in Radakovich’s shoes would criticize (and has) the fanbase for not providing adequate support to an ineffective coach.

  8. whitefang 03/26/2008 at 3:22 PM #

    LRM good post and a great perspectve from SFN.
    Here’s where I am on “giving”:
    I graduated from State nearly 30 years ago and live in the western part of NC. I once (in the Sheridan era) had great upper level FB seats and went to almost all games – 6 hrs of driving – tailgating etc. Gave money to the WPC to get such before the current “program” of course. But kids came along and they started playing PeeWee fb on Saturdays and, when the RBC was being built, I was moved from grass parking to the paved RBC lot. I also used to give to other State stuff – alumni assoc, engineering when they called. Still LOVE State and consider myself a fan. (Hell I read this blog everyday) Kids went to another direction (UVa) so got tics there to see my boys on a few Sat’s.
    Frankly I could afford to give a little (especially when that out of state tuition ends in a few) when I am called. But why would I? I mean it has been really hard to be enthusiastic about our athletics the last several years other than a game here or there. So when the engineering student calls I just tell them to call back when we win something or until Fowler is gone. Man I couldn’t even find the engineering depts now.
    The fans that State doesn’t get money from now IMO are:
    1. Ones like me who through distance and children choosing other schools have lost “touch” with NC State other than watching a TV game.
    And more importantly:
    2. Potential fans who “choose” State even though they didn’t go there (or maybe to any college) due to athletic success – mostly watched on TV.
    I mean how many Duke hats do you see aroung during basketball season worn by people who probably have never been to Durham? Hell many probably don’t know Duke is even in Durham. UNC likewise. The ones who couldn’t find Chapel Hill on a map?
    If you have a State hat on over in this part of NC you either went there or are old and remember Sloan, Thompson….

    LRM: Valid point. See my comment above about giving. I’m no more a passionate fan today as a WPC member and LTR holder than I was as a teenager growing up before I’d ever given a dime. In fact, the argument could be made that I’ve grown less passionate as reality has sunk in. That gets lost all too often.

  9. WestCoast 03/26/2008 at 3:37 PM #

    Great note.

    I’m not giving my normal amount this year to the WPC, and they’ll know why.

  10. rtpack24 03/26/2008 at 4:02 PM #

    You are correct on Rick Barnes. He told Fowler Texas was prssuring him to do new deal because they knew we were after him. So we had to make our best pitch off the bat, it would have to be done guickly. So Fowler low balls him and offers him about what he was already making. So Rick tells Tx he wil re-up the new offer by them. Then Fowler calls back 2 days latter with an offer that Rick would have accepted if we had offered it the first time. I believe this took place over a weekend. Barnes did want the job and always has.

  11. El Scrotcho 03/26/2008 at 4:23 PM #

    ’04 Grad here. I fully intended to be a regular donor after I left NC State; however, I have been so disgusted by the half-ass leadership of the University and Athletic Department that I just have not been able to bring myself to do it. I’m already annoyed that I’m stuck plugging money away into LTRs for tickets that I quite honestly don’t want to use. So….I’ll keep putting that donation money away with Vanguard hoping that at some point I will feel enough confidence in NC State to invest it there. Every year that passes is a chance I’ll find a better use for it though…don’t wait too long NC State.

  12. Mr.wolfpack90 03/26/2008 at 4:32 PM #

    Since my days at nc state(87-90),i have seen a great amount of fan love and newfound loyality with gifts of money and athletic facilites improvements galore.
    I was especially proud to bring my son to a few football and basketball games to let him know that we are just a big player in the area as far as athletics as unc.
    I feel our facilities are top notch and with the ever increasing membership of the wolfpack club reaching a national stature,our fanbase i feel is not lunitic fringe or off the wall or have goals that are unobtainable.

    Our alumni and current students have put in the time money and passion in pulling for our athletic teams so why should be ever accept anything less than the very best?

    While we may have a hard time catching unc or other national top men’s basketball programs or for that matter maybe footbal ones,i believe it is reasonable to acheive a solid athletic status such as wake in football or maryland in basketball(ncaa 2002 champs).
    Our problem lies and will continue to lie with area and state wide sports media(n/o writers/850thebuzz so called experts)who clamor to the duke,unc’s of the world and forget that gonzoga made it happen or that boise state in football.
    Most of these so-called expert media types came from that unc school of journalism so unc will always have a free-attention driven machine. So we really not only know whom we are dealing with but sould not care.
    We all know the real truth,we cn succeed with right leadership(AD’s)and coaches(tom’O brien). Currently,if s lowe does not turn it around then we need to act quickly like gt ad did and land us a solid coach. I am curious as why we don’t do that now but that has already been debated.

    But if our fanbase was to listen to the local media then the davidson’s/george masons/gonzaga’s/boise state’s of the world would never have succeeded!
    I say go pack!! I love them!! Always have and always will!!
    What is wrong with fan passion!!
    Anyone ever looked at duke football?

    LRM: I’ve never quite understood all the Gonzaga hype; it seems too much like reverse-East Coast bias to me. The only time they ever advanced past the Sweet 16 was that first Cinderella season as 10-seed in 1999.

  13. wolfman 03/26/2008 at 5:05 PM #

    It doesn’t stop with the tickets, PSLs, and WPC dues and donations. Every hat, shirt, sticker, or whatever else you buy that has NC State emblazoned on the front puts royalty and license money in Uncle Jed’s coffers.

  14. kyjelly 03/26/2008 at 5:25 PM #

    see St Johns: used to play all its big east games at msg now they only play a few league games there,and have trouble filling a 6,000 seat on campus facility ………will it come to that

  15. chris92heel 03/26/2008 at 5:58 PM #

    Are the attendance rankings based on simple total attendance?

    LRM: Total attendance and percent capacity. Obviously Michigan could average 75% capacity and still average 20,000 more fans. However, the largest stadiums show a trend of 100% capacity every game.

  16. Wulfpack 03/26/2008 at 6:43 PM #

    “Our problem lies and will continue to lie with area and state wide sports media(n/o writers/850thebuzz so called experts)who clamor to the duke,unc’s of the world and forget that gonzoga made it happen or that boise state in football.”

    No, I disagree. That is not our biggest problem. Win. Beat them. Become a Gonzaga. Make a BCS bowl. Give the writers a reason to think otherwise. Fact is, we haven’t come close. All we have given them is a reason to pound us into oblivion. Hell, that’s what we are doing on here. Why should they re-adjust their opinions now? I will totally agree the media is biased. But the real question is what are we, NC State, going to do about it? Haven’t done a darn thing in a very long time.

    LRM: I think that’s what we’re all trying to figure out — how do we get the leadership in place to breakthrough?

  17. DT44 03/26/2008 at 6:57 PM #

    Wulfpack is absolutely right–if we would WIN the media coverage would take care of itself. Remember the orgy of Red-coat Sid-love they bestowed during our late-season run last year…

  18. StateFans 03/26/2008 at 7:33 PM #

    The days of blaming the media for our problems are long behind us.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves for our failures through mis-management

  19. Primewolf 03/26/2008 at 7:53 PM #

    Nice read.

    The genius (at the time) of the LTR coupled with parking based on current points has kept the funds flowing in spite of weak performance across most of our sports programs.

    Football parking has been so important to me that I gave a large chuck last year just to move in 6 rows closer in West Stadium. Now that is crazy. I also thought that I was getting close to ACC tickets by rank and that would help out there.

    However, the irony is that I did get a letter for ACC BB tickets this year (after they couldn’t get enough folks in the top 200 to buy them. I laughed when I got the letter from Bobby and tossed it in the garbage can. I hope they gave enough tickets away to at least fill the NC State section for one game.

    I am convinced that the pocketbook and no shows would be a great signal, but honestly, Oblinger would ignore it unles it were a major organized effort. A few percent or a few thousand empty seats won’t do anything to this admin. LF will just cut costs in the non-revenue sports.

    It would take a real organized effort of our alumni to make a difference. I mean 1000s of folks taking the time to write letters, clog the halls of Holliday, whatever, in an intelligent manner. Heck go line up outside the Park Center as the BOT covene for a few meetings. I am convince there are only a few folks that really care about NCSU on the BOT or in the admin. There is just no passion for excellence.

    I have committed a pretty good chunk to the golf course, which, quite honestly, I wouldn’t do again given Oblinger’s incompetence. And I have thought about gifts to the school of Engr over the next few years, but now I am so upset with Oblinger giving LF awards that I am ready to march in the streets.

    Anything short of a massive organized effort won’t count for anything.

    We’re f^#ked cupcakes, unless we get organized like those sorry Clintons.

  20. SaccoV 03/26/2008 at 7:54 PM #

    As a State graduate, I am aware that I lived my dream. I lived the dream of my father who couldn’t attend college, and found his future fighting for the Marine Corps. It’s shameful that much of our university seems indifferent to its history and prestige (both in academics and athletics). I’m very proud of my degree (although it’s not in the traditional pursuits), and I don’t see the same sense of pride in the administration. We all know Willis Casey and how great a salesman, administrator, and representative of our university he was. It’s unfortunate that we’ve not only lost him, we’ve been light years away with our administrative hires over the last 20 years. I agree with this post wholeheartedly, and have not dedicated one nickel to this administration since graduating in ’98. We now must treat our university like a son or daughter who can’t handle his/her weekly allowance. And that’s the real embarrassment.

  21. gcpack 03/26/2008 at 7:56 PM #

    You mentioned near the end how the state and local media criticize State fans for being unrealistic and impatient.

    Well this weekend, I believe it was in Sunday’s News & 0bserver, Caulton (I always wanted to be a TarHeel) Tudor wrote how it was not right that everyone in the state was excited about basketball except for State fans. That something was missing because it should always be about UNC, Duke & State continuing to play basketball. That having the RBC filled with UNC fans was odd without State still playing basketball.

    I thought well finally a bone tossed our way by
    Caulton Terdor, how unique. He went on about how State’s situation left a void in a region obsessed with college basketball.

    Well my nice thoughts about Terdor came too soon. He finishes by saying that State needs to get better by doing it the right way and, get this, they need to get better FAST.

    I thought it is so typical that the very newspaper that pounded and pounded on State with a fictional book until they had our basketball head on a platter is now saying we need to get better FAST!?.

    Isn’t that the classic set up?
    Chastise us, laugh at us , make us out to be totally unreasonable fans on a national basis even though we really are the most patient fans in the USA as SFN pointed out.
    They say we are impatient then when Terdor finally says something is missing with State not playing he says we need to do it NOW.

    Oh really Caulton? Ya think? State fans aren’t allowed to ask for winning athletic teams within 7 or 10 years because we are unreasonable. Yet it is alright for you to demand that State gets back to winning basketball fast.

    Another example of kick us when we’re up and kick us when we’re down.

    A suggestion to Caulton Terdor.

    Why don’t you just stop writing anything about State. Just focus on the baby blue because that’s what you always have loved and everything you write is from the Orange County view. It is impossible for you to write anything concilliatory about State and even when you try you still manage to get in a dig because you know and we know that this basketball team is not going to get good “FAST”. This will take awhile and the jury is still out on whether State will ever get back to it’s glory years. Your employer saw fit to lead the media criticism to untold heights. Be happy with your success in that venture and quit feining interest in a State resurgence.

  22. Pack1998 03/26/2008 at 9:47 PM #

    Fun read, great data – always interesting content here!

    To level set this post, I do believe that a certain level of patience with coaches is required. The quick firing of Doherty at UNC in my mind was wrong, but it did show us something about UNC. UNC was not going to accept mediocrity for any length of time in basketball. Their quick firing of John Bunting may not have been popular, but it also shows that same shrewdness that we have never seen at NC State. In each situation they instantly upgraded their programs and added more national attention.

    Root cause of State’s historical conundrum? My own thesis is that the talent of our BOT has not compared to a UNC or Duke, mainly from a strategy and management skill set.

    Based on the names who have served on the different BOTs at Duke, UNC, and State – State does not compare. UNC and Duke have had past presidential candidates, Wall St Billionaires, Fortune 100 CEOs leading their university’s direction in academics, athletics, and all other endeavors. I don’t trust that our BOT has cut their teeth in multiple complex/large business situations that would direct them to make the tough and decisive decisions when needed. And I want to reiterate my words “multiple” and “large”, as I realize everyone in their profession encounters complex business situations.

    This is not to say that State does not have these alumnus, they just don’t appear on our BOT that often. The difference in a UNC and Duke is that they consistently have had some members of their BOT that have managed and led in large organizations and pressured situations (e.g. Hugh McColl as CEO of NationsBank aggressively buying out the Banking landscape, or recently on the flip side Allan Schwartz – Duke – leading through the difficult decision as the Bear Stearns President . . .heck, John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley, is also on Duke’s BOT). I clearly don’t think everyone on a BOT has to be CEO of a Fortune 100, but I think having a few of those types of individuals, that are also alumni (read: passion), creates a fact based environment that focuses on output/results and accountability both academically and athletically, and removes emotion and feelings. That typically creates good decisions for large organizations, like a 20K-plus university.

  23. turfpack 03/26/2008 at 10:08 PM #

    GUYS! GREAT COMMENTS-IT SHOWS THE TRUE PASSION WE HAVE FOR OUR SCHOOL.I am with you on this -I have talked with some of the big money guys-they ARE FINALLY COMING AROUND to what we are saying.I think this year was a deciding factor.It takes thousands of us to really make things change-but it only takes few of the BIG DOGS being pissed to make it happen-let’s pray it it works!I bought a bottle of bubbley when LEE ass is fired-can’t wait to open it.As far what is in the media is concerned with -screw the bastard -they are partly the reason we’re in this fix-N.&O.POUNDED COACH V.Don’t worry they will get their’s as well.

  24. choppack1 03/26/2008 at 10:14 PM #

    First off – nice post LRM. That’s a really good comparison -GaTech football under Chan Gailey to NC State b’ball under Sendek. (Especially the losing to rivals part.)

    I also think Clemson compares well. Proud tradition, mammoth stadium, which was packed in their glory days, now packed only for special games. When they played BC this year, there was a desparation in the air by their fans that you could just feel. As a State fan, we know it all too well. Hoping and praying that this is the day that you return to glory – only to be let down in as painful a manner possible. How many times have we felt that way? The moment is there and you can taste it, then you just have it yanked away!

    As far as the national perception – the media’s potrayal of Sendek’s departure was negative. But it’s another example of how unprepared the leadership of this university was adversity in its athletic department. Compare Sendek’s departure to MOC’s. I remember watching ESPN when they covered the firing – they advised that he was 0-7 against UNC and that he had only been to 1 bowl game in the last 5 seasons. Do you think they found that out on their own? I guarantee you someone gave them those talking points.

    In the same vein, when Sendek left, one of the talking heads should have said, “while some will remember him for 5 straight NCAA bids, his 1-17 record vs. NCAA tournament bound UNC teams was a source for frustration. In addition, he’s one of only 2 ACC coaches to last at a school 10 years w/out a regular season conference title or the conference championship.” This is what an athletic department would do when those talking heads started criticizing NC State fans. Even someone like Dave Glenn understands our justified criticism w/ Sendek very well.

    Finally, regarding what we should expect – to quote Captain Kurtz in Apocolypse Now: “It struck me like a diamond in the forehead” when I saw Erskine Bowles cheering lustily for the Heels against Duke. We are a public university. The head of this university could care less if NC State athletics ceased to exist. He pulls for the Heels like I pull for the Pack.

    I am convinced that Fowler and Oblinger just don’t want to piss anyone off – excluding NC State fans – and lose their pension. Their refusal to demand any excellence has me refusing to give one more red penny to NC State. I’m so pissed off at both of these men I can’t see straight.

    Do they mind that we may be on the path to a commuter school? Does it bother them that future grads could view NC State the way a Cincy bearcat or Ohio bobcat views Ohio State, the way a UNC-W Seagull fan views their alma mater?

    Will our school be like the “G” (UNC-G) where college students gather at bars to watch and chant cheers for the football schools they really care about? Will members of the class of 2012 go, “Yea, I had a great at time at NC State, my fondest memories where when my Heels won the championship, and we partied all night on Franklin Street. It was great to only be 30 minutes away from that special college town.”

    Finally, GAWolf – as someone who has been to the shoe, Doak Campell, Death Valley, and Neyland Stadium, I will confirm that we won’t have that kind of atmoshpere any time soon. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have electricity in the Carter that we can’t fathom. Imagine that place for a night game w/ a BCS bowl game on the line. We’ve got a long way to go, but given what we’ve accomplishjed thus far, we’re closer to that than we should be.

  25. Mr.wolfpack90 03/26/2008 at 10:30 PM #

    It is so true!From 1989-90,the n/o pounded jimmy v and did everything they could to run him out of town and it this same media who tries to keep us down thinking it is our fault that herb left and our goals are unrealistic?
    How ironic is it that jimmy v was only guilt was not being around but doing a littleor alot of self promotion yet roy wiliams and coach k can have national tv commericals about themselves and individual shoe deals but i guess they are above reproach. Or how a ex kansas coach can suddenly forget about ncaa rules violations about gifts to basketball players and not get any violations against him?
    It amazes me that the media in raliegh can insult state fans because we are bummed that ncaa basketball is played in rbc but our team is not particapting in the ncaa at all! What in the world should we do go get some wine and chesse and sell our front row seats to corporate comglomerate and make our students sit in the rafters?
    If we play the game we should play to win and to win big!!!
    It can be done and the unc/dukes of the world have never got ove th fact that v won quickly instead of taking 20 yrs doing it the supposed right way. It bothers me evey time a 850thebuzz says bury 1983 team but unc pulls out the 1957,1982,1993 and 2005 stuff everytime they get a chance or a supposed fifth title they claim???
    Let’s face facts the media in the area loves the heels and were their enemie because we don’t like the unc bullcrappers and we want to beat them at everything:football,baseball,basketball,checkers,marbles whatever because that is what spirited rivals do they want to win and succeed and receive all the trimmings that go with it!!!
    We may nev had a unc/duke type program but we sure as heck get around them and win us a title like we did 1983. Jimmy v outcoached dean in three years instead of 20. And the unc backers didn’t like it then and they still don’t like it but that is just to bad!!
    We will succeed and we will win because our passion will never die!!
    Our alma mata Nc state!!

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