The Importance of Qualifications: Gottfried and His Staff

Ever since the hiring of Mark Gottfried to NC State, we’ve heard a few people saying “wow, what a great hire”, a few people saying “I can’t believe that it happened AGAIN” and a ton of people saying “well, I didn’t know if I liked it at first, but I guess it’s ok, but maybe it’s not, so… we’ll just have to see.”  It’s not that difficult to look at this staff, before they even coach one game, and acknowledge that the team is already looking at a brighter future.

…and I don’t just mean that from a classic NC State ‘well, we couldn’t get any worse’ attitude, either.


As the old adage goes, ‘those who can’t do, teach’.  Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should.  Sometimes when you have someone who has spent a long period of their life “doing”, they lose their ability to think and act objectively outside of the system that they use to act in.  You could make this claim for the other coaching staff compared to the new.

First, let’s recall who was on Sidney Lowe’s staff.  We had Sidney, himself a National Champion player on the 1983 Wolfpack team, Monte Towe who was on the 1974 Wolfpack team, Larry Harris who was a record-holding forward for Pittsburgh in the 1970’s and Pete Strickland, a fellow teammate of Harris’.  Of the four coaches, all but Pete Strickland would play professionally.  Monte Towe and Larry Harris only played for two seasons before beginning a coaching career, but Sidney Lowe played for just shy of a decade.

Obviously Gottfried doesn’t approach the task of team-building from the same “player experience matters” aspect.  Gottfried himself played for Oral Roberts for one season before transferring to Alabama, but after completing his degree in 1987, he opted to not participate in the NBA (despite the fact that he was drafted) and instead ended up attending graduate school at UCLA where he began coaching as an assistant.

That only speaks for Gottfried; what about his assistants?  Look no further than Bobby Lutz.  Bobby didn’t even get a chance to walk-on to his college team.  Still, he ended up getting an assistant coaching job at Clemson after getting his four degrees (including his masters at Clemson).  Through his results, he proved a successful enough coach to get an offer to serve as Head Coach at Pfeiffer followed years later by getting an offer to coach at UNC Charlotte where he would become their winningest coach.  All of this despite the fact that he had no college or professional player experience.


You can’t talk about the Sidney Lowe coaching staff without talking about their existing lack of credentials when they ‘arrove’ in Raleigh.  The only individuals who had even sniffed anything that looked like a “Title” at any level was Monte Towe who was an assistant coach at Florida when they won an SEC title in the 1980s, and Pete Strickland who had won a conference title at Old Dominion as an assistant coach back in the 1990s.  Obviously Sidney Lowe hasn’t been coaching in the college game, but he hasn’t accomplished much better in the NBA.

Looking at Gottfried’s staff, you see a myriad of “Titles”.  These guys are focused on producing hardware, which is something NC State hasn’t sniffed in upwards of two decades, or one-or-two generations of Wolfpack fans depending on how you are keeping count. 

Gottfried, himself, has been a part of 3 conference championships (1 as an assistant at UCLA and 2 as a head coach at Murray St) and 1 national championship while serving as assistant coach at UCLA.  Rob Moxley, by most accounts one of the nations top recruiters, was a part of 2 conference championships serving as an assistant under none-other-than Bobby Lutz.  Lutz totaled 4 conference championships at UNC Charlotte, 1 as an assistant and 3 as head coach.  Orlando Early also brings in 3 conference championships, 2 on the same staff as Lutz and Moxley, and 1 as an assistant coach at Western Carolina.

Between Gottfried’s coaching staff during their assistant coaching years and head coaching years, they bring in experience from 8 conference national championships (only counting shared titles as “1” win), and 1 national championship.  That’s a stark change from the Lowe staff’s mere 2 conference championships.


To a lot of critics and supporters alike, it’s useless to attribute a win to an assistant coach if we are asking them to serve as head coach since they didn’t “lead the team” to their success.  Just because someone was a national champion quality assistant doesn’t mean he’ll perform the same as a head coach.

That being said, it should have been obvious how doomed NC State was from the start (and to be fair, many would claim that they did see it from the start) of the Lowe era at NC State.  While Lowe was a head coach, he was only successful in beating his opponents in barely over 25% of his matchups.  As an assistant, he was still only a part of 55% successful teams.  As for Lowe’s assistants, Towe’s teams were typically 58% successful with him as an assistant, Harris 44%, and Strickland 47%.  Now, can you blame an assistant for 30% success?  Not exactly, because he could have just had a terrible boss/head coach.  At the same time, it does speak to the “winning experience” they bring in.  Overall, Lowe’s “winning experience” was 26% as a head coach (albeit, NBA experience, not NCAA experience) and his assistants only brought in an average of 50% “winning experience”.

If the application of this fictional “winning experience” measure isn’t evident, let’s take a look at Gottfried.  First of all, Gottfried is personally responsible for 68% success as head coach (75% at Murray St and 62% at Alabama).  That is already a massive improvement over someone who is 26% successful.  As for his assistants, Moxley, Lutz, and Early bring in 55%, 56%, and 58% “winning experience” as assistant coaches respectively which averages out to just over 56%.

The conclusion you can draw is that Gottfriend not only brings in significantly more experience as a winning coach than Lowe did, but his staff also brings in more experience of being a supporting character in more successful squads than Lowe’s staff ever did.


There are a lot of qualitative improvements this staff brings over the previous administration.  First of all, when you look at the origins of the previous staff prior to arriving at NC State, Lowe brought in NBA connections which helped him with recruiting, but his staff consistented of one assistant coach from the same university he came from and two other assistants that both attended Pittsburgh.  Lowe and his staff also spent a lot of their careers working in very distant positions from the recruiting grounds of North Carolina.  Larry Harris worked in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington before arriving at NC State and Monte Towe spent 11 years in Florida, 8 years in Venezuela, and 5 years in Louisiana.  Strickland would be the only one on the Sidney Lowe staff to have “deep” connections to the region.

Mark Gottfried’s staff is studded with regional stars (and I feel pretty safe referring to them as “starts”).  As previously mentioned, Moxley is one of the nation’s top recruiters, by some accounts one of the nation’s top 20.  He has spent his entire coaching career in North Carolina, Marlyand, and Tennessee.  Bobby Lutz is obviously the home-town sweetheart of the famed Queen City.  the only time he strayed away from the Carolinas was last year when he served one year as an assistant of Iowa State.  Orlando Early has also spent 9 of his 18 years coaching in North Carolina, only leaving the state to serve as an assistant to Mark Gottfried at Alabama and then accepting a head coaching position at Louisiana-Monroe from 2005-2010.

The ironic part of having a coaching staff with no organic roots to NC State is that they are far more connected to the region they will be coaching in than the previous staff which was heralded as a “hometown darling” for NC State by the then-administration.


I’m only writing this last section for posterity because I think the conclusion is clear: this staff is loaded with so much more promise and potential.  For those that get put-off by promise and potential and demand results, this is as good as it will get until tip-off this fall.  You have coaches with far more experience coaching and winning than the previous administration and who are accustomed to winning.  Unlike other “winners” we have brought into NC State for various teams, the one thing that makes this group unique is that none of them have had the luxery or opportunity to get comfortable with their success.  Mark Gottfried obviously made the personal decisions he did in Alabama which cut his winning tradition short.  The various assistants that are serving Gottfriend have all experienced success at UNC Charlotte where they wracked up multiple NCAA tourney bids and 20-win seasons, but Bobby Lutz was dismissed in 2010 after a 218-158 record.

This is a staff that you could argue is so well suited for NC State that its creepy.  They have a history of success, but in recent years have had an unfortunately series of events, some self-inflicted, that have stopped them from continuing their success.  If you don’t take anything else from the article, just consider this: this coaching staff “fits” with NC State and like the staff’s careers, we are in need of proving a point.  If any staff is going to “get it” and be capable of acting on it, it’s going to be this group.

About NCStatePride

***ABOUT THE AUTHOR: NCStatePride has been writing for since 2010 and is a 2009 graduate of the College of Engineering.

11-12 Basketball ACC & Other Mark Gottfried NC State NCS Basketball Sidney Lowe

48 Responses to The Importance of Qualifications: Gottfried and His Staff

  1. Texpack 10/21/2011 at 8:52 AM #

    Gott did well enough at Alabama to make me think we can spend a lot of time in the top four in the ACC while he’s the coach at State. There won’t be a lot of OJT with this staff either. They know what successful rosters and PROGRAMS look like. My one word impression of how they go about their business – Professionally.

  2. tractor57 10/21/2011 at 9:06 AM #

    Not the “name” hire many expected however the combination of the track records of the staff is a pretty good indicator that there will be improvement as compared to the last staff. So far I’m pleased.

  3. BladenWolf 10/21/2011 at 9:17 AM #

    I’m one in the “wait and see” group. Didn’t know much about MG at the beginning, but I’ve met him and been impressed with his assistants as well. All professionals that know how to succeed.

    I really like the conclusion here and drawing the parallel between the coaching staff and NCSU’s need to prove something with a new start. From that perspective it seems like a perfect fit.

  4. PackMan97 10/21/2011 at 9:21 AM #

    What I like best about this staff is that they are as hungry as we are. I don’t question previous staffs and their desire to win, but I never felt the same sense of urgency that I feel with this crew. They don’t want to wait until next year, I don’t even feel they want to wait until next month. Not to mention I feel like Gottfried has a nice old big chip on his shoulder and that’s just fine with me…in fact I love it.

  5. logarithm 10/21/2011 at 9:42 AM #

    The assistant coaching staff’s success at smaller programs reminds me of another basketball coach we hired in the ’80s who seems pretty well-liked.

  6. Plz2BStateFan 10/21/2011 at 9:44 AM #

    Lets not forget that Lowe just didn’t make the team work hard. There are so many disturbing accounts of how Sidney’s teams practiced, related to each other that we should see a real improvement with just these fundamental methods changing.

    NCStatePride: Maybe that is true, I think testimony from players and former trainers would back you up, but that’s not the point of this article and it doesn’t speak to any of the “back-room-factors” in coaching performance. Training programs, offense/defensive schemes, work ethic…… blah blah blah. Without even getting into those types of arguments, especially before we’ve ever seen these coaches work towards a game here at NC State, we can look at the past performance of each assistant and head coach, past and present, and see the improvement that has already been made.

  7. 3boys 10/21/2011 at 9:45 AM #

    Gott is hungry and with something to prove. Did not leave Alabama under the best circumstances and wants to show that he is an elite coach. Like it with a coach and team with a small chip on their shoulder – use it to your advantage.

  8. packalum44 10/21/2011 at 9:47 AM #

    “……“doing”, they lose their ability to think and act objectively outside of the system that they use to act in. You could make this claim for the other coaching staff compared to the new.”

    You’re giving the old staff way too much credit…they were simply incompetent.

  9. NCStatePride 10/21/2011 at 9:51 AM #

    There is no metric for “they were simply incompetent”. Without a measure, all you can do is state what “can” be said. The facts are that the past coaching staff was terrible. Whether you think that is a function of work ethic, incompetence, schema, or anything else is an entirely different argument.

    …and frankly, getting into that argument does nothing to move forward looking at the team we are about to field.

  10. packalum44 10/21/2011 at 9:55 AM #

    We shot for the stars, and landed in the trees. Better than the last regime where we fell face down in the mud.

    Gott is the most charismatic coach we’ve had since Valvano, who is simply in a league of his own. He comes off as a motivator type. If he can have CONSISTENT top 10 classes we’ll be a competitive top 20 program and make tournament runs.

    The next time we shoot for the stars, hopefully we’ll land in the clouds. The star coaches simply don’t “need” a rebuilding job…not a State sucks institutional thing, just a “I don’t need the stress of rebuilding when I can stay or take or hold out for job X…”

  11. rtpack24 10/21/2011 at 10:01 AM #

    Your numbers are very interesting and telling. I have heard from people involved in the program that this staff has changed and is still changing the culture of the team. While MG has not coached a game, I am very encouraged with the way this staff has handled everything so far within our program.

  12. old13 10/21/2011 at 10:03 AM #

    1. A good counter argument to Pride’s premise is K’s staff at Duke who “did” and then went to “teach.” BUT that staff was also raised on the Duke culture which Gott’s description of the new State culture resembles greatly.

    2. Another aspect of the new hungry State staff and Gott is that should they return State to the elite BB status of yesteryear, there would be less incentive to move on to another school as there would be no higher level for coaching in college. But should it happen, State would then be a “destination school” with a whole new approach to a coach search.

  13. packhammer 10/21/2011 at 10:06 AM #

    NC State has not played a single game in the 2011-2012 basketball season. We have not won an ACC title in 20 years. We have not been in the NCAA tournament since sometime way back in the last decade. I am not going for any happy talk. I bought into all that with Sidney, just like I did with Herb. Do something.

    NCStatePride: Sigh………… read with me, because I addressed this very thing.

    “I’m only writing this last section for posterity because I think the conclusion is clear: this staff is loaded with so much more promise and potential. For those that get put-off by promise and potential and demand results, this is as good as it will get until tip-off this fall. You have coaches with far more experience coaching and winning than the previous administration and who are accustomed to winning.”

  14. old13 10/21/2011 at 10:15 AM #

    Who knows what the W-L record will look like at the end of this season, or even five years down the road with this staff. But, based on what we’ve seen and heard about/from the staff to this point, I fully expect to see a team that plays hard for forty minutes, is sound fundamentally, plays team ball, and shows some character on the court whatever the game results. THAT will be a monumental change from the past 20 years! Anything less and I will be greatly disappointed!

  15. packalum44 10/21/2011 at 10:18 AM #

    Sorry Pride’ but this is therapeutic for me.

    NCStatePride: No problem; I do it too. Just don’t want to derail the subject-at-hand.

    Incompetence was the root cause of Lowe’s failure. Sure his schemes sucked and he didn’t work hard, but those are by-products. The opportunity cost of working more (spending his 7 digit salary and living the good life in Raleigh) outweighed the benefits of studying film etc… because frankly he didn’t know how to translate hard work into success.

    He just didn’t get it. The incompetent people at my (and your?) organization that work hard don’t significantly outperform similar incompetent people who leave early. They both suck. They both don’t have aptitude to succeed.

    Competent people can change schemes. Lowe was a parrot. His only language was to regurgitate what he learned as an assistant. There was a notion, which the simple-minded media grabbed onto, that Lowe was good at X’s and O’s. Really? I didn’t see it in 5 years. Sure he can draw up some plays on a chalkboard but beyond regurgitating what he learned from Flip Saunders, he was a fraud.

  16. PoppaJohn 10/21/2011 at 10:18 AM #

    NCStatePride: Nice article, I totally concur with the conclusions. You can make the case that Yow got the best fit available. And the staff hires are also encouraging, especially since they were his decision. He didn’t arrogantly say, “I can do this on my own.” He brought in the NC connection, and people with solid coaching experience.

    So far, so good. Let’s see the product on the floor.

    Let me just say to everyone, we should judge this hire by the basketball being played at the end of the season. As much as I’d like to see it, the current team is not going to transform overnight. We’re in the honeymoon period right now, almost everybody’s smiling. Can he get them up off the floor after they experience an ugly loss to a team with half their talent? Can they show growth all season? Can they consistently compete during the regular season when it is tough and intense every night?

    Will they play a quality game of basketball???

    After we see all that, then we’ll know what we’ve got.

  17. packplantpath 10/21/2011 at 10:19 AM #

    I’m not from Missouri, but I say “show me”. It is easy to find things to be happy about before the season starts. And I have no doubt by our previous Lowe standards we will be better off and happier. I’ve just been beaten down by too many years as a state fan to get too excited about anything but results. Without having ever coached a game here, I like what I see. Now keep the train moving and I hope we can revisit the topic in 6 months with a smile.

  18. NCStatePride 10/21/2011 at 10:19 AM #

    That’s about where I’m at, old13, and that’s a safe conclusion to draw from the data we have infront of us. The teams that these guys have played on are capable of post-season play which, by itself, says a lot for their ability to play with a 100% effort.

    What does have me a bit excited, but isn’t a statistical thing, is the recruiting reputation of Moxley. As stated, this guy is viewed as one of the nation’s top recruiters. If you mix that much raw talent with a coaching staff that believes in putting in the full effort, you are going to get something that at least appears to be a decent hoops team.

    And, packplantpath, that is a very fair statement. Rest assured, I don’t think anyone can make any claims to know where we will end up at the end of the season. After where we were, I’m at a point where I am somewhat less concerned about the record and more interested in what changes have been made from tip-off to the final buzzer. If the in-between is better, the record will improve very quickly.

  19. TOBtime 10/21/2011 at 10:20 AM #

    If shooting for the stars meant getting ANYBODY other than Sean Miller I for one am extremely happy with the tree landing we Gott. I am just as happy we did not make the “Smart” hire. And, in hindsight, that young man may have realized he wasn’t ready for this stage just yet.

    I can’t wait to see these guys hit the floor. Lo Brown was shown on FOX8 this week and you could tell the excitement he had for being able to play point again full time. Hopefully the whole team is that excited about getting it done this year and making their mark.

  20. PackMan97 10/21/2011 at 11:09 AM #

    I understand all the negative nellies, but I refuse to be anything but optimistic. I feel like this staff understands that the fans want success. They understand how we feel like a red headed step child. They understand our frustration and how much success we want. Most importantly this staff understands the hard work they have to put in and the hard work the players need to put in.

  21. nseast8 10/21/2011 at 11:24 AM #

    As poppajohn said, I just hope that everyone is patient during the first part of the season. It may take a few games for the players to grasp the new offense and there are definitely some tough teams to play at the beginning of the season.

    But, I think most can agree that it is easier to be patient if we see 100% effort.

  22. jbpackfan 10/21/2011 at 12:13 PM #

    Good analysis, NCStatePride. Interesting perspective.

  23. drgreenhouse 10/21/2011 at 12:23 PM #


    Excellent analytic piece with the information that we currently have. Changing a losing culture takes a little bit of time, we are getting the right pieces in place to achieve real success.

  24. tractor57 10/21/2011 at 12:46 PM #

    As mentioned earlier I am optimistic given what I’ve seen and heard. Of course I haven’t seen the on court product thus some reservation.

    I’m not going to throw the previous staff under the bus other than to say they were not able to meet expectations. That possibly was due to the staff itself or due to outside factors but neither really matters. In the end the didn’t do the job. The current staff, lead by coach Gott has met expectations to date. Ask me again after the season.

  25. Hungwolf 10/21/2011 at 12:56 PM #

    Good Article. I am very pleased with the Gott hire. I am beyond thrilled that we got Bobby Lutz on staff. Lutz would have been a better hire than Lowe, but all that water under the bridge. Lutz did wonders at UNC-CH. I hope we hold onto to Lutz for a long time, but I fear his time in Raleigh will be short lived, he most likely will get another head coaching job one day.

    As far as Lowe, give him credit for taking a job that had become a public black eye for us, the way the search went. His love for NCSU was never doubted. My personal opinion is Lowe lost his desire (due to his own son’s issues) to push kids on the court, but instead focused on pushing the kids in the classroom. Parents of the players had no complaints about kids classroom efforts or Lowe looking out for their kids. So I hope NCSU fans will quit bashing Lowe and keep him in our hearts as a beloved Wolfpacker for life! He did put us back on the national recruiting scope and the talent level he left Gott is far improved over the empty cupboard Herb left for him!

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