YOU Write the Story – How did UCLA and UNC-CH do it?

Lavin released

As many of you already experience and recognize, we feel this blog has some of the most insightful readers and commentors of any fan blog on the internet. It is a regular experience to read an entry on our blog and learn a lot more from the resulting conversation in the comments section than you learn from the original author.

With this said, I thought that it would be interesting to introduce a new excercise whereby we engage all of the talent that we have at the blog and ask for you to take a more active role in what ultimately is posted as entries here. (I will be traveling and won’t be around much this week so it is a good time to give this a try).

Here is what we are going to do — I am going to provide a topic and ask our readers to provide comments on this topic. We hope that the comments will be diverse and will include links, statistics, editorial comments and maybe even some personal experiences. Some of you may choose to take a stab at writing an entire article; others may choose just to provide some key statistics and records. We hope to ultimately copy and paste the information and commentary and create an important entry for the blog that we can add to our archives for future use. (Don’t hesitate to run some key word searches on SFN while making use of our archives!)

The topic today is brought to us by two members of this year’s Final Four – UCLA and UNC-CH. Today, the Bruins and the Tarheels are coached by Ben Howland and Roy Williams, respectively. But, just a few years ago both institutions had different faces leading the charge. (In fact, Carolina went through a seven year stretch where they employed four different basketball coaches and ALL FOUR of them reached the Final Four).

Since this is an NC State blog, let’s tie NC State to this by asking the question – over the last 15 years, how has the manner in which NC State’s “leadership” has managed our Basketball program compare to the decisions and moves that UCLA (Steve Lavin) and UNC (Matt Doherty and Bill Guthridge) have chosen. Particularly, how does Lee Fowler’s decisions to retain Herb Sendek from 2000-2006 compare to UCLA and UNC’s decisions?

To get you started, allow us to turn your attention to this old SFN entry that we found with a five second search of our database. In addition to some great editorial comments in the discussion section that would be relevant to this, the following summary for Steve Lavin’s career at UCLA was provided.

Lavin’s quick record: 7 Seasons; 6 NCAA Bids; 5 Sweet 16’s; 1 Elite Eight

Lastly, if you weren’t online much this weekend then we ask that you play around a little and do some reading. For example, we’ve got a couple of “bytes” entries that received a lot of attention on Saturday and on Friday.

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144 Responses to YOU Write the Story – How did UCLA and UNC-CH do it?

  1. turfpack 03/30/2008 at 11:29 PM #

    Two things are needed a NCSU at the present time-1.Leadership-someone who knows what it takes to build and maintain a topnotch program of Athletics 2.Someone who truly cares about the university-He or she must have a passion for making NCSU a the very best it can be-A tireless work ethic-A never give up attitude-A ever working love for the university in personal and professional life.It takes new ideas in a ever changing world of athletics in all sports to compete at a high level.This would be a start-so the soer the better-we’re falling behind every day goes by.I will always bleed RED-GO PACK!!

    SFN: We’ll had a third criteria of the current need – intelligence. I don’t mean the raw sense of the word. But, more of a real-world intelligence that has an innate ability to understand the realities of our situations and how those realities compare to other universities.

  2. howlie 03/31/2008 at 12:21 AM #

    I really don’t know about ‘inside details’ of other schools’ programs with which to compare State’s athletic management [‘management’ is what we have, not leadership}.

    The comparison to UCLA is more apt than UNCCH, as their basketball [and football] programs have been ‘down’ since our 1974 BB win. They have had periods of achievement since, but no consistent program-building until recent times. Achievement in program-building of their RIVALS seems to have been a factor in their own recent success, providing players the ‘challenge’ to go to UCLA and go up against the programs that found them ‘not quite good enough to provide an offer to rival schools.

    Clearly, because of [no] results at NCSU, we haven’t had the AD or Chancellor requiring accountability for coaching or team performance. The AD’s only job has, apparently, been to find a way to secure a consistent revenue stream for athletics. Do THAT, and you get ‘awards’ and publicity for amazing “performance.” Consistent, prolonged fan extortion is considered ‘success.’
    Our ‘sports management’ could have been authored by Michael Jordan–just put something resembling ‘moderate entertainment’ on the court, and money paid for [even empty] seats is the only marker for achievement.

    The only ‘leader’ we have had in the last three decades has been MAF, who publically proclaimed the university expected success, and our athletic goals were to be national championships. Furthermore, those goals were for all programs, including football, in which we had little previous success. When she declared those goals at Amato’s press conference, his ‘gulp’ was audible, as he seemed to realize his own standards would have to be elevated. THAT declaration of high expectations expanded our facilities and provided immediate football attendance; payoff in [immediate] recruiting; and expansion of facilities. The football team’s departure for new facilities provided another recent facility for the sole use of the basketball team.

    Oblinger leads as a ghost or missing person, with no public pronuncement of expectations. Fowler, therefore, meets and exceeds expectations because there are none required or publically proclaimed. Fowler loves the limelight, and this way gets all the attention without having to field a team. He is ‘the sage grandfather’ providing encouragement through the news media of his ‘youngster’ coaches in TOB & Sid… who have no goals proclaimed or deliniated for them.

    No goals, no dreams, no expectations, no leadership, and no accountability equals no change. Except to gradually get worse and hit bottom.

    Are we there yet?

    When our ‘maintenance maintainers’ get us completely to, or through, the bottom, who will be the source of the awards they increasingly receive?

  3. kyjelly 03/31/2008 at 12:38 AM #

    Well they hired coaches for one…….We hired what an ex player from our last real glory team which was sadly 25yrs ago .
    We all hoped sid would work out and bring us back. After 2 years it is very clear barring a miracle or a basketball brain transplant that is not going to happen. With our braindead AD sid will be in place as long as he wants and thats the way it is because fowler is not going anywhere and he thinks things are fine……..The only way I see change coming is if attendence really drops ,but that would happen because we have 1st rate fans with sadly a 4th rate program here.

  4. StateFans 03/31/2008 at 4:43 AM #

    ^ But, what were the circumstances and performance-related issues that created the impetus for them to get rid of their former coaches?

    How do those circumstances that created change at their institutions compare to the circumstances that didn’t create change at ours?

  5. stormin norman 03/31/2008 at 7:27 AM #

    Our problem has been and continues to be an NC State cultural problem on where we stand against our peers. If you go back to the days of Everett Case and why he was hired (do you know? – it was b/c the adminstration felt that we couldn’t compete with UNC and Duke in football – how the world has changed now. Some would argue that we should concentrate on football b/c we can’t compete with UNC and Duke in basketball – another subject for another day)

    Anyways, we don’t demand the best. Lets look – Les 7 years and Herb 10 years. 17 years – 6 NCAAs, 1 sweet 16. UNC fires Matt Doherty after 3. Oh yeah, they will blame the off the court stuff (b/c they are smart), but losing is what did it. Lets look MOC 7 years, Amato 7 years. UNC – Torbush 3 years, Bunting 4 or 5 years. We are slow to pull the trigger because we think that if you graduate a fair number of athletes, don’t get in the public eye for “bad stuff”, and sell enough tickets – THEN everything is okay!

    UNC is the school that saids the Politically correct stuff, but behind the curtain votes the way that it takes for their agenda to work. NCSU is the school that screws up the publicly politically correct stuff, but in fear votes the PCS way out of fear – even if it is contrary to its on agenda. Could it be because we feel inferior?

  6. Rick 03/31/2008 at 7:47 AM #

    NCSU does not have the vision or leadership to lead us to athletic success and honestly the problem is more than just the AD. Honetly, I do not see our situation changing for hte better any time soon. We are mired in a world of crap with no one to lead us out.

    My prediction is TOB will do well enough to keep the $$$ pouring in which is all they want. Sid may or may not succeed but it is obvious he will have many years to do so.

    Sadly I think no one at the AD or higher level cares if we win.

  7. Rick 03/31/2008 at 7:48 AM #

    I wanted to add…

    The only way any of this changes is if we get so bad the $$ stops flowing and the LTRs ensure that will not happen.

    AD at NCSU must be the easiest job in the history of sports.

  8. choppack1 03/31/2008 at 8:04 AM #

    Did DOH make the final 4? I don’t think he did. He did win Coach of the Year.

    2 things that UCLA and UNC did which NC State couldn’t do last time around (and I emphasize last time around) was that we couldn’t get our No 1 choice. In 2001, things might have been different. There’s a chance we could have had a Rick Barnes, John Calipari or a Bruce Pearl.

    I will also say this, while Roy’s success hasn’t surprised me, Howland’s has. While he did great things at Pitt, there was nothing in his resume to indicate he’d go to the Final 4 3 straight years.

    Part of the problem w/ not acting when you have substantial evidence is that you may get additional evidence which clouds the perspective, even though you aren’t meeting your ultimate goals. We saw this happen w/ MOC – who should have been fired after back to back 3-8 years. We saw this happen w/ Sendek, who would have been fired at most schools after his 5th year. We may see it happen in basketball again.

    In football, we were fairly lucky 2 years ago. What would have happened if Chuck had managed to win his last 2 games vs. ECU and UNC? We’d probably be heading into this year w/out TOB or PJ – and really be facing a picky. As it was, Chuck’s final year was so awful, that the writing was written clearly enough on the wall for the “powers that be” to read it.

  9. rtpack24 03/31/2008 at 8:05 AM #

    I believe only 3 of the 4 made the final 4. Doherty got AP coach of the year but did not reach the final 4. As for our situation, had Sendek not chosen to leave, he would still be here if it was up to Fowler. Looking back on Fowler’s coaching search or what ever it was, he actually offered Steve Lavin the job. The following year there were 53 div-1 jobs open and Lavin was considered for none of them. This speaks volumes concerning our ad’s “insight”. I hope Sid gets things turned around. There was alot more going on with our team this year than met the eye. Wall had an interesting comment over the weekend concerning Sid’s situation.

  10. packpigskinfan23 03/31/2008 at 8:44 AM #


  11. highonlowe 03/31/2008 at 8:49 AM #

    How did they do it? A good question, and an simple answer.
    It starts with a committment to atheletic achievement. They realize that on-the-field achievements often resonate throughout the community into off-the-field achievements. NC State clearly falls short here.

    Then, they acted immediately when it became clear that the current regime had a limited ceiling. Note “acted”, not reacted. Their administration didn’t wait until a coach finished dead last in the conference, or lost to every in-state foe, before they made a change. Sadly, NC State falls short here as well.

    Lastly, execution. They executed their plan flawlessly. They nabbed their first choice in a timely fashion, and consequently, seamlessly delivered the resources required to succeed going forward. Once again and definitively, the current NC State administration clearly falls short.

  12. Wolf-n-Atl 03/31/2008 at 8:51 AM #

    The reference to MAF is a great one. She came from Texas with an attitude that our university should be the best at everything it does. These sort of expectations from the top of the university set the tone for everyone else. When our university leaders accept mediocrity then it filters down to all levels and not just in athletics. The difference between our leaders and the leaders at UNC & UCLA is that they demand excellence and if it isn’t delivered then they will release you and move on to someone that will meet those expectations.

    Too many of our teams hope to be at the top of the conference and therefore are satisfied when they are in the middle. Top programs expect to win the conference and are disappointed when they are 2nd. As Sean Connery’s character in The Rock said, “Losers try their best, winners go home and #$%# the prom queen.”

    To relate this to the real world, how many companies will hold on to a sales manager, sales person, product manager, etc if they come in last in sales in their region/dept/etc. year after year?

  13. choppack1 03/31/2008 at 8:55 AM #

    Wall said, “It’s a lot of pressure to think that a coach might get fired if you didn’t go to school there.”

    I’d only say to him 2 things – 1) That’s not your fault. 2) If you like Sid and think he’s going be a great coach, then, no worries right? Go to State.

    I still can’t get over the fact that Lavin was considered. Was Coach Gut not available? To me, there was one key indicator that proved he was a horrible fit for the job:

    He wasn’t coaching any more. Rick Nueheisel, Jim Fossell and others who have been fired, still coached. Nueheisel even coached QBs at a local high school. IMHO, this shows a love for the profession and a dedication to learn and improve. Lavin went to TV – and remains there. As far as I know, he doesn’t even coach Y ball.

  14. Rochester 03/31/2008 at 8:56 AM #

    Wall had an interesting comment over the weekend concerning Sid’s situation.

    Please elaborate.

    As for the question of the day, I think part of the problem with NC State’s administration is that the criteria isn’t established for what “success” is. If it’s bringing money into the program/department, CTC should grandfathered in and still be here. (I don’t want him still here, just making a point.) If it’s winning/losing, CTC failed and was appropriately canned. If it’s running a clean program with well-disciplined kids, CTC was on a tightrope and could have fallen either way.

    Voldemort had a clean program with relatively well-disciplined players. After an abominable 5th year, he won, though not quite as much as we’d all have liked. And while he wasn’t inspiring, he did seem to have some of the big money guys in love with him. That spells out job security, in our version of the college game, anyway. Once he got past that 5th season and was still here, it was tough to justify firing him, based on the results. Though we fell short of what we aspire to, the sad reality is that the five year span before he left was the high point of the last 18 years, and that made it tough for the administration to kick him out the door.

  15. blackdom 03/31/2008 at 9:06 AM #

    well choppack1 so far as howlands success at pitt he had plenty especially if you knew anything about bball and seen his teams perform.(which is usually the case in any major schools athletic hire)
    His teams played a system,played hard,he knew xs and os,turned a non basketball school into a respectible and competitive program . Not a coach where one has to hope he gets it,or needs a decade to grow into
    his job

  16. one00_proof 03/31/2008 at 9:28 AM #

    The most amazing thing I’ve seen Lee do to NC State in his entire tenure here is that this university is now subordinated in almost EVERY athletic sport to our main rival, UNC. It’s sad that as a student at NC State, I cannot name a sport with 100% confidence (except for maybe gymastics and softball) where we continually beat the Tar Heels on a regular basis. By no means should we be obliterating the Tar Heels in EVERY athletic sport, their prestige and popularity extends far beyond the reach of North Carolina and that is an advantage we just do not have. But to see us constantly play the loser role to UNC in over 90% of the athletic sports and in 3/3 larger revenue sports (Baseball in Basketball and Football), you have to wonder where Lee’s allegiances are. Not only does he allow our athletics program to deteriorate from the prestige it had in the 70s and 80s, he attempts to humiliate us by setting yearly matches with ECU in basketball of all sports (wtf?) where only ECU has anything to gain.

    When I talk with older alumni, they tell me that back in the day, teams came against State AS the underdog. Suddenly the roles have switched and we are now the underdogs to our rivals down the street. Akin to the earlier article about “Because We Are NC State”, why should we be satisfied with reaching the NCAA’s, with upsetting a team, with having a winning record? The second we lower our expectations, we allow Fowler to dictate his views about how WE should feel about our own university. By no means am I saying fire every coach that doesn’t win or beats UNC because I know the time and experience factor are just as important. But at the same time, I’m not going to sit back and be content playing second fiddle to UNC in almost every sport imaginable, what’s the point in the rivalry then?

    Let’s role reversal this a bit, you think if UNC had a team that continually lost to State, the coach wouldn’t feel some heat? Course not! UNC knows where their bread is buttered and they’re not going to let a university THEY SHOULD BEAT get the better of them. My question is, when did UNC suddenly become Goliath and we become David? Paging Lee Fowler…

  17. Todd 03/31/2008 at 9:37 AM #

    Here’s my anology… Jed is to NCSU sports as Gaylord Focker’s parents are to him. Embrace his mediocraty, he can do no wrong.

  18. Stoner 03/31/2008 at 9:52 AM #

    Don’t know enough about UCLA athletics to comment, but what “building” a successful athletics department comes down to is being able to hire good coaches.

    For that you need an AD who is confident in being able to evaluate good coaching talent, from lower levels and smart enough to know whent to fire an underperforming coach, so the university isn’t eating too many buyouts.

    I don’t think Baddour has had to make too many coaching hires, since he’s been AD. Sylvia Hatchell has been there since the late 1980’s, the women’s soccer team has been dynastic for as long as the NCAA’s has had women’s soccer, and Roy Williams has always been believed to be Dean’s successor and he botched the hire initially.

    What separates good programs from us the willingness to to hire an AD who has the drive to make the athletics department successful. We went from Turner, to Robinson (who actually did a lot to straighten out our finances, get the RBC Center built and get our academics in order), and Fowler.

    NCSU has not had an AD like that in ages. I’m not sure where the blame lays, but neither big donors at the WPC or the BoT seems to care about winning all that much. The WPC can be a force for change, as it was in dismissing Amato and ponying up the money to get the attention of Barnes and Callipari, but they can’t carry the load alone. The WPC does not have the ability to push the BoT to make a change at AD. Why, I don’t know.

    The problem with NCSU does not start with the AD. He is a product of the BoT’s and maybe the WPC’s complacent attitude.

    For further frustration, I found this article about Maryland’s hire for their current AD Deborah Yow (and yes it’s Kay’s younger sister). Our desire to stick out with Turner, and now with Fowler, is what is hurting us and that starts at the top of our university structure.

  19. wufpup76 03/31/2008 at 10:21 AM #

    ^Doh definitely did not make the Final 4 … 3 seasons, 1 NCAA appearance (lost as a #1 seed to PENN STATE in Round 2; PSU coached by Raleigh native Jerry Dunn at that time, iirc), 1 NIT appearance, 1 8-20 season sandwiched inbetween …

    I’ll try to find links to tie all that up …

    The Doh timeline looks like this:

    Factor 1 – Guthridge has some lean years post-Smith (a Final Four season after a ‘so-so’ regular season notwithstanding) – recruiting is down relative to other Chapel Hill classes

    Factor 2 – Doh – with limited head coaching experience – is tapped to be the next Hole coach b/c for “staying in the family” puroses (so they said)

    Factor 3 – So far, you’ve got fan unrest due to the closure of the Gut years, recruiting “woes” (woes in their eyes – it’s all relative), and the hiring of a young, inexperienced, and UNPROVEN head coach … Doh comes in pistols blazing, has a very nice first recruiting class; Chapel Hill looks good on the court during the first 3/4 of the regular season … The Holes beat Duke, Chapel Hill achieves a #1 ranking in the polls, Doh is on his way to national coach of the year – everything is peaches and Hole fans can sleep easy on their angel pillows as all is right w/ the world again …

    Then, the most unlikely of teams and coaches put the first bullet hole in Doh & company … Our friends down at Clemson, coached by Larry Shyatt at the time – were having a miserable season … but on an overcast Sunday afternoon in February that season (it was overcast where I was at, anyway:) Clemson drilled the Holes (pun intended) who came into the game ranked #1 in the nation … For the first time, you could see Doh and the Holes exposed some and sweating a bit … Fans race back into “What has our Athletics Dept. done? – This is CAROLINA!” mode after one game … This was the start of the unraveling … Chapel Hill clearly underperforms down the strecth of that season, but still manages to obtain a #1 seed in the NCAA tourny … enter Penn State and Jerry Dunn – who promptly swat Chapel Hill out of the tourny (that was a fun day)

    Factor 4 – Doh enters a “prove it” season in only year 2 after the way the previous season ended … Contributing to this mindset are player losses (or defections – Forte, among others) in the offseason … The results were … not so good that year for Doh and the Holes … It started w/ a 30-point blowout exhibition blowout loss at home to Curtis Staples and the EA sports all-stars and ended w/ an 8-20 overall record … Calls for a change were loud and clear by this point … Also, don’t underestimate the media’s role when it comes to “traditional powers” … When programs such as Hole basketball and Notre Dame football struggle, you hear about it ALL THE TIME … The hypocrisy of the MSM (mainstream media) really shines through here – these programs “belong” on top in the MSM’s eyes so they should do whatever it takes to “stay on top” … whereas other programs should just be thankful to have a coach at all … but, anyway – that’s beside the point

    Factor 5 – Doh has a great recruiting class coming in for his 3rd season, but the damage is mostly done by this point … The Holes clearly have talent and win some unexpected games that season (UConn for one) but make the NIT … Not enough for Hole fans, Hole “family” (Deano included), or Hole media … As others pointed out above, off the court issues for that team were prevalent in media stories … All the more valid reasoning to let a sinking ship go … Enter Royboy “I don’t give a SH*T about Carolina right now” Williams and the sun rises again! Rejoice! Rejoice! The world makes sense again!!!!

    I know the above could use some links for relevant facts and I’ll do some searching … As for how they (being Chapel Hill or UCLA) did it and how it compares to Fowler-led NCSU – I’ll look for links and stuff

    Chapel Hill’s Athletics Department and Chancellorship didn’t blame the fans, ask for more time, or BETTER FACILITIES … They recognized a mistake that was leading a storied program down the wrong path and tried (succeeded) to fix the mistake and recaptured their splintering fan base in one fell swoop … It’s the ONLY reason Dick Baddour is still the AD over there …

    UCLA has a strikingly similar story, except that Lavin always did JUST ENOUGH at Tournament time to lead everyone to believe that in the next year or two he would start getting his great recruits to consistent Final Fours … He entered a final, make-or-break season that went much like Doh’s final season … Nail in coffin … Keep in mind that Lav was the coach immediately after the Scumbag (oops, Harrick is his name) fiasco which probably bought him at least 3 years right from the tip

    In UCLA and Chapel Hill you have two institutions that made it CLEAR to everyone that a paticular season for a coach (Lav; Doh) was “make it or don’t” and then acted DECISIVELY once those seasons concluded

    As for NCSU and Fowl-up, well we’ve been over that story ad nauseum – haven’t we? 🙂

  20. Noah 03/31/2008 at 10:30 AM #

    While it all worked out for UNC, keeping Matt Doherty after that 8-20 season was absurd.

    While Guthridge wasn’t Roy Williams on the coaching trail, he did go to two final fours in three years. And Doherty did take over a team that had enough talent to be an NCAA squad at the absolute very minimum.

    Between his personal behavior and getting smacked around on the court, Baddour would have been 100 percent right to have let him go and to have held a press conference saying, “It was a terrible hire. It didn’t work out in any way and I’m sorry. I’ll do better on the next one.”

    UNC almost lost to SUNY-Stonybrook that year. It was a miracle that they won that game…SUNY-Stonybrook was in it’s first year of NCAA competition and only had three scholarship players. That’s waaaay worse than us losing to ECU (a firable offense) or Campbell or Florida Atlantic the year they only won two games.

    I believe that there’s a critical mass of things that have to happen for a coach to have success. Luck, talent, skill, brains…they all come together. And I don’t think you just pull them out of your *ss. Sendek didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. But he was close. Les Robinson…was never close. Matt Doherty was never close.

    Someone’s going to have to point to some things I’m obviously overlooking to make me think Lowe is close.

  21. ushum 03/31/2008 at 10:30 AM #

    simply put UCLA’s and UNC’s administrations both truly believe that their teams should be great…they believe it is a birthright…ours does not, ours is happy with 4th place in our conference and it does not take any chances what so ever in trying to win CHAMPIONSHIPS…

    our administration is content with our results over the past decade…

  22. wufpup76 03/31/2008 at 10:31 AM #

    ^I’m sorry, I should’ve said Lavin’s last season went like Doh’s SECOND season … UCLA was awful in Lavin’s final year and that’s the season I meant to refer to

  23. smile102 03/31/2008 at 10:34 AM #

    Doh didn’t get along well w/ the players and they let that be known. One positive out growth for UNC thou was fan support: the Wine and Cheese crowd was pushed aside for loud students; games are no longer a sedate event.

  24. wufpup76 03/31/2008 at 10:38 AM #

    “Jed is to NCSU sports as Gaylord Focker’s parents are to him. Embrace his mediocraty, he can do no wrong.”

    Pretty funny 🙂 … “You came in 12th place! Here is your 12th place Ribbon!”

  25. BillyVest 03/31/2008 at 10:45 AM #

    Factor 5 – Doh has a great recruiting class coming in for his 3rd season, but the damage is mostly done by this point … The Holes clearly have talent and win some unexpected games that season (UConn for one) but make the NIT

    What’s interesting about that year is Mays broke his foot in January (before they played NCSU) and it was only after they lost their inside presence they really had trouble. With Mays healthy all year, they could’ve made it back to the NCAA’s.

    The powers that be at Chapell Hill weren’t going to let Doherty off the hook and give him an excuse, like an injury to a key player, for not performing.

    I honestly think if it had been NCSU, all we’d have heard is how a key injury kept us from winning and the coach was not to blame.

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