While the Championship game last night depressed most of the country, NC State Fans are glued to twitter for every last bit of misinformation they can digest. I have to admit after reading Debbie Yow's Letter to Fans last night, I felt like reaching for a Xanax.
Most people think we are insane and I'm pretty sure we need to setup a non-profit to explain to the rest of the world what it is like for the generation of rabid NC State fans who grew up during the David Thompson era, went to NC State during the Valvano era, and have purchased season tickets throughout the Les Robinson, Herb Sendek, and Sidney Lowe era. I'm pretty sure we are a very unique group with a yet to be named condition that drives our behavior. It is a hard life for those of us who still care so much. I've actually apologized to my 10 year old son that he couldn't grow up a UNC fan, but it just wasn't going to happen, and he continues to learn what it is like to celebrate seldom and look for silver linings in the small things like "At least Wake finished worse".
I'm pretty sure most logical analysts assume Shaka would be at an NC State press conference by now. I don't think it is State fans over-estimating the value of the job to have believed he would take our "offer". We are quick to optimism though, and Greg Marshall was the better hire. But when that doesn't happen, you can't help but panic a bit.
What could have gone wrong in these two cases. Most likely these guys have roots now, the money is pretty damn awesome in their current jobs, at least from where they imagined they might be at this point, and they both have wives who get a huge vote in whether to pick up the kids and move somewhere else, especially when they do know that one possible outcome is in 4 years most of the people closest to them might not be too happy with the job their husband is doing. I could be the mostly insane Gary Williams telling anyone who will listen that Debbie Yow is an evil bitch. Most coaches know Gary is crazy, but he's also a respected coach that doesn't cheat, and I imagine he's a blast to hang out with, and some of the things he says are likely hard to ignore in those private conversations. I do believe he's made it a mission to spread ill-will where Yow is concerned. Who knows if he's telling the truth or not, but at this point I think he's a Dick and can't wait to beat the crap out of his team regularly someday.
Back to the panic State fans are feeling right now. Took me a couple of hours to gain some perspective on this, but I'm actually feeling optimistic at the moment. There are a couple of big points to think about
1) People keep wanting a home-run hire. With the exception of a few names which everyone feels like just couldn't miss (Barnes, Miller), anything beyond that is all about "Winning the Press Conference". People wanted a name where national media would say "Wow, NC State did a great job with this hire". While I'd love to see Billy Donovan on the podium accepting the NC State job, just so we could throw it in the face of many national writers who said NC State fans are delusional in thinking NC State is an attractive job, that isn't what is important here.
Most successful coaches weren't home-run hires. If you go back to Coach K and Jim Valvano, local fans were disappointed. If you think about more recent hires that were the most exciting to fans at the time of the hire, I think most would say that UVA hiring Pete Gillan was just about as sure a thing as you could get that year. Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech was the hottest name around that year. Both of these saw early flashes of success but ended in failure. Shaka Smart I think is going to be a great coach. Who knows, maybe he is a great coach right now. But there is also a reasonable chance he would have gotten in over his head, that he isn't ready yet for what would face him, and it would have ended badly 5 years from now.
My point is, don't despair just because we aren't getting the first guys we've asked. Some amount of this is just guessing, projecting what might be, and you just don't always know what is good and what is bad in the long run.
2) I'd really encourage fans to re-read Yow's Letter. On the surface fans are reading it as a very negative thing, talking about the rebuilding required, those who have said no, and leaves the impression that we are back to square one.
With a half nights sleep and a little time to think about it, I believe this letter isn't written for the benefit of State fans at all, but is written for those coaches she is talking to today. You could certainly imagine a coach being approached today thinking in the back of his mind something along the lines of "I'd like this job, but will everyone see me as being the tenth coach asked, second best, desperate if I take this job"?
What Yow has done is offered cover for that coach by calling every other coach who said no a wuss. She's basically saying that everyone else we showed strong interest in was chicken, not up to the challenge. This allows our next coach to be shown in the light as a great coach who wasn't afraid of maybe the biggest challenge in college basketball. I like and respect this tact, and I hope it will help us land a great coach.
Only time will tell, and maybe we'll review this post in 5 years. I'll still be at State games regardless, but maybe by then my seats will be low enough to spit on Gary Williams at least once a year :)
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