SMD: The Gap Grows Greater

SFN:  Long time readers may remember some of our old entries (from 2005-2006) that we named “Perpetually Disappearing Pie”.  We won’t link them here since our most recent server transition removed the key graphs from the entries.  Today’s entry is a special submission from one of our long time contributors, SMD, and brings with it a similar perspective.  Before reading this, we ask that you click here to view one of the many fascinating quotes from NC State’s current Athletics Director that will serve to provide direct insight into the mindset in Raleigh that helps create the results that SMD discusses in his submission.

I had tickets to the NC State-UNC-CH game today but didn’t go. I didn’t even watch it on TV. The last thing I wanted to see was another reminder of how far NC State has fallen behind the Tarholes.

While it is no exaggeration to say that I would literally pull for the Taliban National Team against the Baby Blues, the fact remains that I respect the hell out of their program. Frank McGuire, Dean Smith and now Roy Williams have established one of the top three college programs of all-time in Chapel Hell.

I give the Tarholes their due as a way of saying this; As a Wolfpacker, I have never expected our basketball program to compete neck and neck with UNC-CH for national prominence and titles. That idea is pretty much a pipe dream for anyone not named Coach K. However, given NC State’s storied tradition up to the early 1990s, there was no reason to ever think that we could not keep the Smurfs from feeling the wolves’ breath on their back.

Unfortunately, the Wolfpack is doing little to keep that pace and now we are a distant gleam in their rearview mirror – assuming they look back at all.

I’ve crunched the numbers from State’s basketball media guide and found some interesting statistics regarding the series record with UNC-CH. I looked at the head to head records for each decade starting in the 1950s and found the following;

1950 to 1960:

  • State won 16 of 27 for a win percentage of .592.
  • State won in 8 of the 10 years.


  • State won 4 of 22 for a win percentage of .181.
  • State won in 4 of the 10 years.


  • State won 14 of 30 for a win percentage of .466.
  • State won in 9 of the 10 years.


  • State won 8 of 25 for a win percentage of .320
  • State won in 6 of the 10 years.


  • State won 6 of 22 for a win percentage of .272.
  • State won in 5 of the 10 years.


  • State won 5 of 18 for a win percentage of .277.
  • State won in 3 of the 9 years.


Over the course of the last 6 decades, NC State had one, four-year losing streak in the 60’s. In the current decade there was a three-year losing streak from 2004 to 2006. Besides those two streaks, the Wolfpack has never suffered long losing streaks to the Tarholes. Like I said, State was able to keep the wolves’ breath on the Heels’ back.

Here’s the killer; against UNC-CH coaches not named Matt Doherty, State has won just twice in the last 13 years and once in the last decade. Let that sink in. Throw out the anomaly that the Doherty years were for UNC-CH and our record against “normal” Tarhole teams is nothing short of dismal.

Let’s state it again for emphasis – Setting aside the Matt Doherty years, State has beaten UNC-CH twice in the last 13 years and once in the last decade.

Digging into the numbers deeper, and comparing the records of the nine schools in the old ACC, against non-Matt Doherty Tarhole teams over the last 13 years, NC State has the fewest wins against UNC-CH of ANY ACC institution.

Here’s the point of all these dismal and pathetic statistics; until NC State leadership decided to de-emphasize basketball (and some could argue the entire athletics program) the Wolfpack beat one of the top programs in all of college basketball on a regular basis. Tarhole basketball is what it is and NC State has no control over how great things are in Chapel Hell. But what we can control is keeping the pace with the legendary program we all love to hate. As I’ve said before in the comments section of this blog, younger Wolfpackers should know that until the late 1980’s, the Wolfpack was tied with UNC-CH for ACC titles. We had the same number of national titles until 1993.

One could argue that while beating the Tarholes feels good for the Monday after work, there are many other barometers to measure the strength of a basketball program than wins against a top notch arch-rival.

While there are other indicators of program strength, I strongly believe that how NC State’s program fares against our argyle-wearing enemies should be the indicator that matters most. Why?

If NC State is beating UNC-CH on a regular basis, then our program is in pretty good shape. The Tarholes are without a doubt the gold standard by which the rest of the ACC and other programs across the country are judged. The years that the Wolfpack has fared best in the rivalry typically runs parallel to the years of overall success for the program. That’s no coincidence. If you’re going to run with the top dogs, or near the top dogs, you have to beat them. And if you’re beating them, you’re probably doing pretty good against the mutts and other dogs that aren’t as good.

I don’t think we’ll ever make up the ground we’ve lost over the last 19 years in my lifetime. Recruits today have no clue what Wolfpack basketball used to be. But sometime or another NC State has to step up and at least try to keep pace with UNC-CH. We have to stop accepting the ever-widening gap between the two programs. Who will accept that challenge?

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129 Responses to SMD: The Gap Grows Greater

  1. boonami 02/03/2009 at 8:25 AM #

    Great analysis of the program and I wish that the powers that be at State would see this. My hope is the BOD would say, enough is enough and get rid of Jed, but I’d have a better chance of winning the lotto.

  2. RSP123 02/03/2009 at 8:29 AM #

    Excellent information that is very revealing. Trust me, longtime Packers like myself know what it is like to go head to head with the Holes and Duke was just an afterthought. Be certain that Roy has not forgot nor K! That just reveals their competative nature that I admire. The last thing either one of those programs wants is to see a resurgence in Raleigh. Sid and Towe are links to our glorious past. I hope and pray that they have the ability to get us back, because our administration certainly does not have the ability or the desire. More than ever, now is the time for the Wolfpack Nation to unite and demand “Excellence without excuse!”

  3. whitefang 02/03/2009 at 8:39 AM #

    I have said this before here, but our only hope is that we can become somewhat of a football school. Basketball success is a distant memory and there is nothing, including the chance at some better recruits, that gives makes be believe it won’t become even more distant.

  4. Wulfpack 02/03/2009 at 8:47 AM #

    “NC State has the fewest wins against UNC-CH of ANY ACC institution”

    Hammer. Nail. Head.

    I understand we’ve stunk for quite a while. I understand the majority of our fan base now expect to lose to UNC. But I will tell you, I was just infuriated looking at some of the comments on the blog following Saturday’s game. We lost at home to our rival by 17 points. And folks were happy with our “effort”.

    I’m not in any way suggesting our effort was poor. It wasn’t. But I am saying it truly sucks to be around others who are proud of a 17 point home loss to UNC.

    I guess it’s just a sign of the times. But it stinks and I’m tired of it. I want somebody, anybody, to turn this tide and make our games with the Tar Holes meaningful once again. If it’s Sid and he gets us there, great, he has my full support. Honestly. But if it’s some other wingnut whose not afraid to mix it up and go head to head with these guys with no connection to the university, so be it. Losing to these guys, and losing badly, is getting old.

  5. wufpup76 02/03/2009 at 8:49 AM #

    I feel like Arrec Barrwin (Alec Baldwin) at the end of “Team America: World Police” trying to come up with a counterargument after his plot has been discovered … simply put, there is no counterargument to this

    Todd Turner wins … I don’t see how it’s even possible to stem the tide without sweeping change (and that’s a laugh in and of itself)

    Edit: I meant sweeping change from the top – down … Not necessarily the current coach

  6. Rick 02/03/2009 at 9:05 AM #

    This parallels something I have been thinking about. Before reading this, realize that I have not made up my mind about Lowe.

    Good management wins. There are some teams that are always terrible…
    For example, the Clippers in the NBA. Despite getting top draft picks year after year they still stink.
    There are teams that are always good. Detroit in the NHL or the Lakers in the NBA.

    Good management causes wins.

    I heard it said that “losing is a sickness”. And it is right. Our AD has a terminal case and it has filtered down. We no longer expect to win.

    Honestly I really have very little hope that things will improve. What will it take to get better? A concerted effort by the people that run NCSU to make athletics a priority. It must become a performance based organization. Right now we are not. We are a “family”. The AD cares so much for his employees that he makes excuses for them and that leads to nothing but failure.

    I said I have not made up my mind about Lowe but I do not think it matters. The Cardinals were always the bottom dwellers until they brought in a coach that changed the attitude of the organization.

    I do not see us making that change.

  7. vtpackfan 02/03/2009 at 9:08 AM #

    Ok, finally got it. It took 1,000 words to break new ground here. Pie eating contest and stop being a pussy and demand they start baking some damn pies.

  8. Daily Update 02/03/2009 at 9:11 AM #

    I ended up not going to the game on Saturday either. I didn’t even try and sell the ticket. Our administration could easily send a message to NC State fans that they are serious about winning, but instead Lee Fowler remains at NC State.

  9. Alpha Wolf 02/03/2009 at 9:20 AM #

    “I am saying it truly sucks to be around others who are proud of a 17 point home loss to UNC.”

    Preach it and amen, brother, amen.

    NC State has conditioned its students, recent alumni and the country in general to believe that the school is for losers.

  10. Sam92 02/03/2009 at 9:24 AM #

    i wonder if lee fowler is even the core problem – does it rest even higher, with a chancellor and board of trustees who just don’t care about athletics, or for that matter who don’t care about promoting a cohesive student experience?

    isn’t the problem bigger, with an administration that is happy to have ncsu gravitate towards becoming a commuter school with no feeling of student community – of which a de-emphasis of athletics and satisfaction with a shabby AD are but a symptom?

  11. Noah 02/03/2009 at 9:24 AM #

    Since no one remembers that we used to be good, there’s no reason to keep some old-timer around just because of what happened 25 years ago, right?

    I’ve got some boxes in my garage. I can have them over to “sid”‘s office in about 30 minutes. Let’s go get a real coach.

    Sound good?

  12. SMD 02/03/2009 at 9:30 AM #

    ncsumatman – Your point is well-taken that this site has already featured a lot of content like today’s column. Here’s the counterpoint;

    It is up to sites like SFN, RAWFS, Section Six and others to bang home the facts until someone listens, and “never, ever give up.” 🙂

    Frankly, given the lack of results we see, or even rhetoric to make us think they care, I don’t think anyone within NCSU’s athletic leadership is crunching numbers the way this site and other do. I know that no one on the BOT or in the Chancellor’s office are doing this.

  13. howlie 02/03/2009 at 9:33 AM #

    Way to go StateFans. Everything’s fine until you go and show actual statistics. Now watch–within the next four months–the BOD will AGAIN give Fowlup a “vote of confidence;” renew his pay at the current level (and allow him to negotiate any amount of dirty under-the-table supplement money from Capitol Sports Marketing); and extend his contract for life.

    BYW, I hear new fuhciluhtays are coming for our Bass Fishing Team and Rifle team.
    They’re going to cut down a few trees.

  14. Rick 02/03/2009 at 9:37 AM #

    “I am saying it truly sucks to be around others who are proud of a 17 point home loss to UNC.”

    I am convinced this is what the powers that be want at NCSU.

    Why bother with winning when we can get plenty of money with being middling to average? Lifetime rights guarantees income no matter what the product.

  15. Noah 02/03/2009 at 9:38 AM #

    I don’t know what you guys are complaining about. “Sid” has us on the right track. We won some games or something three decades ago and we almost got a recruit one time. The #1 point guard in the country, who lives across the street from the arena, actually accepted free tickets to see us play Carolina. So, that means that “Sid” has us on the right track!

    Fifteen or twenty more years of slamming our head on the wall and we’ll probably stop feeling it!

    Way to go, “Sid!”

  16. SMD 02/03/2009 at 9:41 AM #

    One other small point that I left out of the original column;

    There are two or three programs that are just one win ahead of us in non-Doherty wins during the last 13 years. But of those, they have all been relegated to playing Chapel Hell only once per year as the conference expanded.

    We get more shots at them than anyone else and STILL have the fewest wins. Pathetic.

  17. ncsu_kappa 02/03/2009 at 9:41 AM #

    This was all said to say what? We do need another coach or we don’t? Always talking about what used to be is like talking about the glory days of Ford and GM.

    Its 2008 now, what was in 1993 is highly irrelevant now to everyone who wasn’t in Reynolds back then. Now we are NC State as is, and all these history lessons do little to strengthen what we are today. I appreciate history like the next man but geesh, how many times are we going to revisit the, we used to be good well.

  18. 61Packer 02/03/2009 at 9:42 AM #

    Robert Montgomery Knight……….

    BJD95: That would be the one move we could make that would make me even more hopeless. Our program would be a circus, and he would get eaten alive in the ACC with the caliber of player he is able to recruit at this stage of his career.

  19. Noah 02/03/2009 at 9:54 AM #

    I appreciate history like the next man but geesh, how many times are we going to revisit the, we used to be good well.

    As long as our current coach is in place. That’s the only reason he’s here.

  20. old13 02/03/2009 at 9:56 AM #

    Seems to me that at least most of us know, and have known for a long time, the dismal condition of, and the two major problems with NCSU athletics – Foulup and “The Administration.” So when do we figure out what, if anything, can be done about it and carry it out!

  21. BJD95 02/03/2009 at 10:09 AM #

    Very good post. It makes me want to vomit that I can’t refute a word of it, or hope for it to be refuted in the near-to-medium future.

    Management needs to change from the top down. replacing the VP of Operations (Lowe) isn’t going to do a shit-bit of good while the deadwood above him continues festering in place. And it’s the festering deadwood that would select the new VP of Operations, at a time when money is tight. Let’s face it, the only way the current jackasses could land a good coach is by throwing money at somebody with almost no question marks. We were lucky as hell that Tom O’Brien literally fell into our laps. I don’t see that happening again.

    I think Sidney Lowe is a bad college head coach. But the last thing I want to do is reset the “patience” clock without addressing the root cause of our overall shittiness.

    FWIW, this performance gap is very likely to get much worse for the next 10-15 years. You see, Roy Williams knows what NC State can be, and he treats us like a legitimate rival. He demands that his kids want to beat us every bit as much as they want to beat Duke. As long as Roy is there, don’t expect his charges to show any pity or show up unfocused for the game.

  22. graywolf 02/03/2009 at 10:13 AM #

    Robert Montgomery Knight……….

    I agree 61 and Knight has let it be known this week that he is avaliable for the right institution. Don’t tell me he would not LOVE to finish out his career against Roy and Mike.

    To our BOT….please “make it happen”

  23. wpackman33 02/03/2009 at 10:13 AM #

    In my opinion, the verdict is still out on Lowe. Which doesn’t mean that he needs to be canned. he’s got my full 100% support for now. But the seat is starting to warm up. Anyway…

    Great article. This is why i get on StateFans 3 or 4 times a day. you guys break it down very nicely and by looking at these numbers and the direction we have been going, it would seem like a no brainer that something has gotta change.
    I’m not talking about a coaching change but more of a higher up change with getting Fowler out of here.

    Here’s a wild and crazy idea and i’m sure its probably been brought up on this sight before, but i’d like to get all of your opinions on it. CTC brought some life and pazzazz to this program. Now grant it, a lot of his success is due to Rivers because we know how things panned out after he left. But he’s got passion and seems to love this university. How do you think he would do at being our AD.

    Just a wild and crazy thought.

    STATEFANS ROCKS!!! Thanks for all the work you guys do.

    GO PACK!!!

  24. BJD95 02/03/2009 at 10:17 AM #

    I can’t think of a worse move (other than re-hiring Les) than going after Knight. He has trouble recruiting so much as Top 250 recruits at this stage of his career, and would get eaten alive in the ACC. Getting him now would be like signing Brett Favre for 2009. That ship has long since sailed.

  25. SMD 02/03/2009 at 10:24 AM #

    BJD is right that this is not about Sidney per se, though he could wind up being part of a correction.

    What would make me happier than a clam is for someone, anyone, in NCSU leadership to step up and say;

    1) We’ve screwed the pooch by not striving for athletic excellence in several areas over the last several years. The worst example being the fact that HWSNBN was left in place for so long.

    2) We get it, and starting today – ALL of our coaches are put on notice. You will be held accountable for wins and progress within the program. And you will be held accountable for how we do against our arch-rivals.

    If I heard those two things said and implemented, I’d be very happy and would probably increase my giving to the WPC.

    A guy can dream can’t he? 🙂

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