I’ve subscribed to the TBJ for some time, and I find it to be amazingly informative as a small business owner in the Triangle. It’s a great way for me to keep my finger on the pulse of the business world around me. It seems recently, however, I’ve found it to also be THE authority on all things N.C. State.
Obviously the TBJ let the horse out of the barn with respect to the Fowler departure that we have been hinting at for some time.
There’s also been numerous stories linked here in the last few months about various accounts of the financial picture at the major Triangle universities, including but not limited to N.C. State, and the coverage has been extremely insightful. Like it or not the almighty dollar reigns supreme, and in our capitalistic society there is often no better place to learn the inner workings of all entities than from the business perspective. This is becoming increasingly evident with the TBJ’s coverage of N.C. State. The question I have is: “Why now?”
Certainly there could be a number of reasons for this coverage. Chris Baysden, a writer for the TBJ, seems to have done the lion’s share of these recent pieces on State. Is he a State grad? Dale Gibson has a fantastic story on Chancellor Woodson in the issue that was delivered today. If you read nothing else this week, I beg you to read this entry: Randy Woodson, New Leader of Wolfpack Nation. For me, what’s set out in that detailed look at our new chancellor that tells me why, almost immediately, so much good fortune has fallen on our University in the last week. I dare say it’s almost magical how quickly the overall demeanor of our almuni and fans have been changed for the better.
Asked about whether the scandal that rocked our alma mater is going to make his new job any harder, the guy almost poetically rattles off this amazing response:
“For me, I’m going to say no, and the reason is that the highest priority coming in after the university has been — you use the world scandal — is to restore confidence in the administration, the chancellor.. it actually is something I think I’m good at in terms of connecting to the constituents — restore confidence and trust.”
Pow…. and just like that the guy nails it. It’s so freaking simple that many have overlooked what most of us as alumni have been longing for for years now. The man enjoys laughing. He brews beer. He was raised by school teachers and mentored by a wise farmer. If there’s ever been a more likely person to champion the cause of reestablishing the intended reputation of our University it’s William Randolph Woodson.
Like all good Pack fans and NC State grads, I’m about as jaded and skeptical a man as you will find. After all, the mainstream media has repeatedly equated us Wolfpack faithful to Rodney Dangerfield, to Charlie Brown kicking the football, and to the red-headed step child. I’m skeptical. We all are. I spent the better part of the mid-90’s at N.C. State. I’m one of those kids who never even considered going to college elsewhere. Despite being a third generation N.C. State alum, I must unfortunately say I’m as skeptical of my alma mater today as my parents were then regarding my constant assurance that my nights and weekends in Raleigh were spent huddled over books in D.H. Hill.
But this time… this time… something is different. Really. Chancellor Woodson gets “it.” He gets us. And the TBJ gets it, too. The TBJ quoted Chancellor Woodson as saying, “It didn’t take Dick Tracy to figure out this was a good job.” This is a good job. N.C. State despite it’s perpetual mocking by the mainstream media is a good university that offers people good jobs. Our coaching positions… good jobs. Our administration… good jobs. And this time… this time… I think the wheels are in motion to make all of those jobs once again great jobs. With Woodson’s immediate accessibility to the media the mere positive exposure he’s created has turned what he saw as a good job into a great job. In just a few short weeks he’s almost single-handedly rejuvenated interest and confidence in the most skeptical of alumni and fans (like me).
I could have easily focused on the TBJ’s fantastic article today on the replacement of Fowler as it, too, is a great read. Please check it out here. In it Baysden takes a pretty solid look at the obvious candidates to replace Fowler as our A.D., another good job which with the right person in place quickly becomes a great job. And that’s where both of these stories collectively give us hope that this thing is way, way bigger than replacing Fowler. It’s about replacing the University’s image, its brand, its soul.
So why now? Why when the mainstream media has turned it’s back on N.C. State for so long is a relatively niche paper such as the TBJ storming to the forefront of positive NC State coverage? Perhaps some of these guys are NC State grads taking it upon themselves to help right was not-so-long-ago a sinking ship. Or perhaps it’s the overall attitude shift at NC State under the direction of Woodson.
Check out this ridiculously awesome quote from Woodson when asked about his take on college athletics:
“…. first of all, I’m a fan. The challenge is that as much as it can do to enhance the brand, if it’s not done well and ethically it can do a lot to damage the brand.”
“Brand.” “Image.” “Enhance.” Has there ever been a more immediate shift in values at a University? I’m not aware of one. Immediately with the hiring of Woodson we have made an about face with respect to treating athletics as the marketing tool it so obviously is. Woodson’s approach is refreshing to say the least, and it goes to figure it would garner and hold the attention of the writers over at the TBJ. College sports is big business, and we’ve been neglecting our market share of such for way too long.
Great things are going on at our University. I applaud the TBJ’s effort to capture and report them.
The TBJ leaves you with this quote discussing our rivalry with UNC, and it’s fitting here as well: “If there is a sense of inferiority, I hope we can move beyond that very quickly.” For the first time in recent memory, I truly believe this statement has legs.