Time Heals All Knee Jerks

Raise your hand if, like me, you gave a loud “What the hell?” when Mark Gottfried was announced as the new Wolfpack men’s basketball coach nearly a year ago. I admit it – at this time a year ago, I was spending hours on the internet trolling for the scoop on who State would hire. Barnes didn’t want the job, Miller didn’t want the job, Smart didn’t want the job. When I heard the name Gottfried, my first knee-jerk reaction was that NC State had flubbed yet another basketball hire. I mean, this guy wasn’t even employed as a coach when we landed him!

Here we sit a year later and with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that Mark Gottfried was the right choice to bring our beloved men’s basketball program back from the dead. I’m not saying that the man is the second coming of Everett Case, only time will tell that. But the clear improvement in the Wolfpack players between this year and last year can’t be ignored. This guy can coach and teach basketball.

The fact that so many of us were scratching our heads over Gottfried’s hire is another example of what I wrote (but then failed to actually practice) during the coaching search, Ya Gotta Know What Ya Don’t Know. If only I followed my own advice when I wrote;

There are a gazillion factors in hiring a major college basketball coach. And the great majority of those factors are things that the average fan doesn’t know by judging a win-loss record or watching games on television. We are making strong judgments based largely on perception.

Instead, I jerked my knee banging it so hard when I read that the choice was Gottfried. It turns out that the sky wasn’t falling and the Athletic Director Debbie Yow did actually know what she was doing in hiring Gottfried. Was he the first choice? No, but he was the right choice and clearly Yow had the professional expertise to make the right call. This is an expertise that I and certainly most other Wolfpack fans don’t have.

And those so-called “name” coaches we all wanted? Check out our StateFans Nation Forums for an update on coaches named Barnes, Miller and Turgeon who are now scheduling their tee times rather than basketball practice.

My knee has healed nicely, thanks for asking!

About SMD

SMD graduated from NC State at a time when beating UNC-CH in both major revenue sports was a regular occurrence. This was well before a time when I could express my frustrated attempts at being a writer on the "internets." When I'm not talking about the Pack, I'm probably arguing politics.

10-11 Basketball 11-12 Basketball Mark Gottfried

60 Responses to Time Heals All Knee Jerks

  1. PackMan97 03/13/2012 at 10:52 AM #

    Winning heals all wounds, and that’s what Gottfried has done. If for example, Leslie had bolted, we didn’t land AJ and a severely out-manned NC State had another losing record we wouldn’t be having a very different discussion. Of course, one of the benefits of hiring an actual coach is that he can do things like convince a guy with the NBA in his eye to return, land a key 5th year transfer and coach the guys currently on the roster to improve.

  2. beeeejay 03/13/2012 at 10:53 AM #

    I remember being on this blog and listening to local sports radio all day long just trying to figure out who it would be. When Gottfried was hired I remember thinking that it was typical of NCSU to go out and hire a guy who had been fired and was out of coaching for 2 years. I would never have thought we would be in the position that we are now, and I am grateful for the the decision that was made, and obviously it shows what little us internet ADs know.

  3. James C. 03/13/2012 at 10:55 AM #

    Well, Barnes isn’t golfing yet, and State had a lot more at their disposal than AZ and MD. But your overall point still stands.

    Just be careful not to knee-jerk in response to your knee-jerk. I remember vividly a pretty prominent national writer pen a piece similar to this after watching State advance to the 2007 ACC Tournament finals under first-year coach Sidney Lowe.

    Point being, we never know what the future holds, and once teams discover Gott’s tendencies and weaknesses, they’ll exploit them. What seems like the promise for a bright future could turn out to be nothing more than the next Herb or Sidney.

    That said, I think we’re on the right track, trending upward and perhaps most importantly, HEALING our negative image and perception in the eyes of college basketball fans and media across the country. Gott’s experience at ESPN might be the most valuable thing he’s brought to NC State basketball.

  4. Codebrown 03/13/2012 at 10:55 AM #

    I’d like to ask our very own LRM to again describe the scene of when he found out our next coach was going to be Mark Gottfried.


  5. MBS 03/13/2012 at 11:02 AM #

    I remember reading SOMEWHERE that one of Fowler’s biggest mistakes the first time around was that he never developed a Plan B. He swung for the fences – no problem there – (though I have a problem with how he executed that swing) – but he never had a plan for what to do if he whiffed. So when Barnes and Calipari fell through, he had nothing. I remember the depression of realizing that he had no direction at all in that search.

    Yow swung for the fences, too, but apparently she always knew that she had an ace in the hole, so to speak. And quite frankly, I’m not sure that it could have worked out much better for us! Miller would have been a star here. No doubt. I still think Shaka would have done well, too. But I can’t be happier than I am with what he have – Gottfried is off to a really, really good start, and his future looks pretty darn bright!

    Anyway, props to Debbie Yow for positioning herself to hire a winning coach. She did well, and we are so much better for it!

  6. WolfWall 03/13/2012 at 11:03 AM #

    I love Gottfried, and am really excited about what he can do here. But I remember in the Fall of 2007 as our football team floundered on the field, the student section was cheering “SIDNEY LOWE CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP, SIDNEY LOWE…..”

    Just keep that in mind. That said, I am definitely expecting progress next year, as opposed to the regression in Lowe’s second year!

  7. daughtry 03/13/2012 at 11:04 AM #

    Now let’s hope Bobby Lutz enjoys his role as an assistant, and sticks around for the long haul.

  8. PackMan97 03/13/2012 at 11:09 AM #

    James C – Regarding tendencies and teams exploiting them the first season says we get the better end of that deal. Let’s look at the teams we played twice.

    Wake – Beat twice
    Miami – Beat twice
    BC – Beat three times
    GT – Lost first, won second
    UVa – Lost first, won second
    Carolina – Lost by 19, then by 12, then by 2

    There isn’t a single team this season that has gotten the better of us the second time around. That’s a sign of some really good coaching. Only Carolina is the blemish on the record and hopefully we take care of that in the Elite Eight 🙂

  9. GApack04 03/13/2012 at 11:21 AM #

    daughtry you nailed it mentioning Lutz…the staff has been just as important as MG himself. I have no doubt that BL will get a head coaching job again one day, I just hope it’s after the Pack have won some hardware.

  10. MBS 03/13/2012 at 11:21 AM #

    Packman97, that’s a great point. And you can see the progression of individual players, too . . .

    Gottfried was once considered a rising star in the coaching world, and then something went haywire. If he has the mindset of correcting those mistakes and proving his doubters wrong, then you combine that drive with his obvious talent . . . and we may have really found something special.

    Remember, Arizona fans weren’t excited when they heard Sean Miller’s name announced a few years ago, either. That worked out pretty well for them.

  11. hammerpack 03/13/2012 at 11:24 AM #

    I agree, am impressed with the leadership and progress with both coach and AD!

    Both should serve us well for years to come!

  12. Texpack 03/13/2012 at 11:35 AM #

    My first thought when Gott was hired was hmmmmm. I had formed a vague, but positive impression of him from his time at Alabama. My thought was that we hd at least hired someone who had had some success in a major conference before so in all likelihood he wouldn’t be a bust and his floor would be the NIT once every 5 years or so.

    My questions were whether or not he could recruit big time talent and be able to effectively sell NC State. He is off to a good start so far.

    I’m pretty sure if we have big time success next year, Lutz will get a Head Coach’s job somewhere. How effectively he can replace Lutz will be critical. I do think the ESPN connections have been more of a benefit than I thought they would be and that may help him to get another former Head Coach who knows coaching with Gott will keep his name out there for the next opportunity.

    The things Gott has done the best job at are player development and adopting a style of play that played to our strengths. Wood is the only player in the regular rotation that isn’t greatly improved from last year. We need to upgrade our talent so we can try to control tempo when the opponent dictates that as the smartest strategy.

  13. Hungwolf 03/13/2012 at 11:36 AM #

    Gottfried is a class act and Kudos to Sidney Lowe for leaving him something to work with. Lowe recruited our starting five. Herb left Lowe little and our program in a mess. There is a reason you leave a head coaching job at school rich in bball tradition, in the top 20 in bball attendance, and top ten in club donations to go to a school in the desert. You avoiding the eventual pink slip that was sure to come.

    Congrats to the team, congrats to Coach Gottfried, congrats to great staff Gottfried put together, and thanks to Lowe for the recruits and making us revelant in recruiting circles again.

  14. Wulfpack 03/13/2012 at 11:39 AM #

    Count me in as well. I was a bit flumoxed by the infamous DY email, then the hiring of Gott. I knew he did well at Bama, then it fell apart. I also knew he had been in broadcasting for a few years, and tried for the Utah job. Turns out he was taking a good hard look at how he could improve as a coach, and being molded to be the perfect fit for a program that desperately needed his leadership and media savvy. He’s going to be great for us for a very long time. I know some are a bit concerned he could leave for greener pasteurs, but I think he is happy right just where he is. He’s got a job to do. He’s done great so far but is just getting started.

  15. old13 03/13/2012 at 11:41 AM #

    “Gottfried was once considered a rising star in the coaching world, and then something went haywire. If he has the mindset of correcting those mistakes and proving his doubters wrong, then you combine that drive with his obvious talent . . . and we may have really found something special.”

    THIS was my biggest concern with his hiring after having a chance to research Gott (and, of course, receiving some unsolicited input from some Alabama troll along the way.) I don’t know that we’ll ever know what actually happened with Gott at Alabama; and maybe/probably it’s not for us to know. I do think, however, that what he did on the court at Alabama proves his basketball coaching abilities. And, hopefully, whatever happened there off the court is now a “lesson learned” road for him that will not be travelled again. In any case, he’s gotten off to a terriffic start in Raleigh. Only time will tell if this is the norm or merely a flash-in-the-pan. But I have come to very much trust the judgement of DY in things athletics.

    “I know some are a bit concerned he could leave for greener pasteurs, . . . ”

    I don’t see this as a concern. If he returns State to it’s full basketball potential, State IS the greener pastures!

  16. PittsburghPackFan 03/13/2012 at 11:44 AM #

    My reaction was more of a “Who?” Then a “Well, at least the search is over”.

    When I read up on him, having forgotten about his 2004 Alabama team’s NCAA run, and 5 consecutive NCAA tourney appearances, I thought “Maybe he’ll be ok”.

  17. wilmwolf80 03/13/2012 at 11:45 AM #

    The problem we run into is that evaluating a coach is not a static operation, it is one that must be fluid. You cannot simply look at what is happening now and make blanket statements. To properly evaluate a coach, you must somehow combine the things we know from the past, the current results, and the future possibilities. It’s really a difficult task, especially when you include the inevitable emotional context that comes with being a fan of anything. So as we stand today, Coach Gottfried has shown in the past a great ability, he has shown tangible results on the court this season, and he has recruited very well for the near future. Kudos to him, so far.

  18. PackMan97 03/13/2012 at 11:51 AM #


    [herb rant deleted]. Let’s just say I blame Fowler for hiring a coach that couldn’t start work for 3 months more than I blame Herb.

    Couldn’t be happier with the guy we’ve “Gott” considering the fact Roy and K are nearing dinosaur status.

  19. NJpack 03/13/2012 at 12:20 PM #

    In my opinion, a big part of the initial WTF reaction when Gottfried was hired was the fact that a guy with his type of resume should have been hired 5 years ago. Look at where John Beilein is at with Michigan (yes, I know he sometimes borders on the Princeton offense like you know who) or where Gregg Marshall is at with Witchita State, and imagine where we would be at if we could repeat the 5 Lowe years with one of those guys. I point out those two because they were on our Plan B list, we just had an utterly incompetent AD who tried to put contracts together all by himself, and of course failed miserably.

    Which brings us to Gottfried 5 years later – great fit for State as he has a chip on his shoulder from being let go at Alabama, hires a solid staff, and has us loaded with recruits for next year.

    The most troubling thing to me, and I’ll be the first to tell you my opinion and $2 will buy you a cup of coffee, is our performance in end of game situations. Think back to the 1st Virginia game, the Clemson game, and the infamous UNC game – our end of game plays, respectively, were a bad shot by Lo Brown, a desperation lob followed with a CJ Leslie 3 pointer, and two quick turnovers (one on AJ, the other on a bad Scott Wood pass because he was afraid to shoot). If the coaching staff works on that, gets Leslie back, and gets the 3 recruits, we should be dangerous next year!

  20. vtpackfan 03/13/2012 at 12:41 PM #

    Just glad we were constantly in end of game situations this year. Last years squad, same roster 12 ACC games and a host of OOC games before the first TV timeout.
    I was good on the hire from the get-go. DY stated the criteria of the candidate and Gott fit the description. The problem was that folks, mostly meeting right here at SFN, took her description for granted and assumed she was implying that we would be the instant envy of every bball program without a HOF coach.

  21. vtpackfan 03/13/2012 at 12:43 PM #

    Just glad we were constantly in end of game situations this year. Last years squad, same roster, lost 12 games and a host of OOC games before the first TV timeout.
    I was good on the hire from the get-go. DY stated the criteria of the candidate and Gott fit the description. The problem was that folks, mostly meeting right here at SFN, took her description for granted and assumed she was implying that we would be the instant envy of every bball program without a HOF coach.

  22. highstick 03/13/2012 at 12:52 PM #

    Who is this “Gotfreed” fellow? I’ve been sitting at the Chargrill for almost a year waiting for DY to show up with a basketball coach!

    Word is we won’t be tracking tail numbers in a couple of weeks!

  23. MP 03/13/2012 at 12:54 PM #

    This reminded me of the post following the announcement of MG. By the way, everyone should go re-read that one. Although BJD95’s comments are unsettling! 🙂 I found my comment:

    “I was baffled when I first heard the name ‘Mark Gottfried’ yesterday. I would have LOVED to seen Billy Donovan come to Raleigh. Sean Miller would have also been great. Now with that said:

    I will take MG with about 15 years of coaching experience including NCAAT experience, demonstrated winning teams, and recruiting.

    I will take MG over Tubby Smith or anyone else that people view as a ‘bridge’ coach to future glory days.

    I will take MG over Shaka Smart and am surprised we ever offered (I literally refused to believe it when I first heard).

    So in summary: Two coaches that I really wanted would have cost 3 – 4 Million per year. We now have a coach at 1/3 of that price who:
    (1) Won’t be a deer-in-the-headlights against UNC/DUKE as a young coach would.
    (2) Has YEARS of experience coaching/recruiting with some notable success.
    (3) You have to believe is extremely driven to succeed and is still young enough to have a long successful career HERE.
    (4) Will not cost us a fortune if he doesn’t.

    I was disappointed yesterday. I am not disappointed today.”

  24. tractor57 03/13/2012 at 12:56 PM #

    Not that I claim any special knowledge but I did not have that WFT? moment. As things played out that choice did seem to be a decent plan B. I was just waiting to see the results of that hire. It was obvious in a very short time that Yow and Gott would be proactive rather than reactionary. Next season could bomb out but I think the chances of that are very slight. I like the way things have progressed since Woodson’s hiring. I really think that event led to Yow’s hiring and in turn Gottfried’s. It is very refreshing to have an administration that expects the athletics department to meet standards (both on and off the field or court).

    Not since the days of Caldwell has such leadership been displayed. I met Joab Thomas and came away reasonably impressed but there has not been a chancellor with the dedication of Caldwell in a very long time.

    In this case it all starts from the top.

    Win or lose I’m very proud of the basketball team for the changes they have made.

  25. Daily Update 03/13/2012 at 1:00 PM #

    I thought it was the best hire we could make after other options fell through. It would be interesting to see some of my comments. The day he was hired was the same day I started a new job which has since taken most of my time. That is why I don’t blog anymore.

    I love the people still downplaying Shaka Smart. The guy just won a conference title after losing 4 starters. He had VCU on TJ Warren’s list of final schools. The guy would have won here and recruited very well. But at the same time, Gottfried has done better than what I would have hoped for in a best case scenario with Shaka Smart.

    As I said on Twitter over the weekend, Gott’s 1st season turnaround and on the court might be the best 1st year coaching job in my lifetime. It might be the greatest turnaround in the history of the conference factoring in an NCAA tourney after a 5 year absence and 3 McD AAs in his 1st recruiting class.

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