The only surprise in the firing of
Mike Mark Gottfried from NC State was the timing. With only a few weeks left in the season, NC State made Gottfried’s lame duck status official.
The list of names possible for NC State range from the obvious: Archie Miller. To the jump before pushed: Tom Crean. To the absurd: Greg Marshall or Chris Mack. To other alum: Vinny Del Negro. To random natives of North Carolina: Kelvin Sampson.
The early word is that Archie Miller is not interested in NC State. Like his brother, the alma mater is in the past. Miller, the younger, seems to be taking the Shaka Smart approach. Stay where things are comfortable, fairly compensated, and can continue success. Hold out for when the best paying and highest ceiling job that fits comes open in a few years (*cough* Ohio State *cough*).
Even though the firing was no surprise. And given the difference between the talent recruited and results, that everyone thought Gottfried was doing poorly — especially the last couple years. There is now the backlash to NC States and their fans.
Gottfried may have gotten to 4 Tourneys in 6 years and 2 Sweet 16s. But NC State barely made it on two of those despite the talent. The bottom fell out quickly — again, despite the plethora of talent — last year was 5-13 in the ACC. This year won’t even be that good.
As much as “only the NCAA Tournament matters,” is the standard. Then what happens when you miss it. Badly. Two straight years. Then what else is there? The way he’s recruited, it gives little hope for improvement when the recruiting classes have been getting better but the results are worse.
Still, it’s time to make Gottfried the victim of the NC State’s inflated sense of it self.
Even in an article that ostensibly is saying this is a great opportunity for NC State right now does it in such a backhanded slap manner.
N.C. State has an opportunity here that is unique to its woeful history of coaching hires. Through more than three decades it has been the least of the three high-level programs in the Research Triangle. That will not be altered in the near future. However, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski just turned 70, and North Carolina’s Roy Williams will be 67 in August. It would be lovely if they both coach forever. That remains highly unlikely.
We do not know how many seasons remain for either, but can surmise that the next N.C. State coach should have an opportunity to be coaching through the transition at one or both schools. If the university gets this one right, that coach could have a program in place that becomes more prominent should either of the others fumble its process.
That is a selling point for the Wolfpack. It is not their only one. There is not a large collection of schools with championships won under multiple coaches. It can be done at State, but only if State gets the right guy.
That’s a lovely conclusion to the piece. Now, here’s how it started:
The fine people at N.C. State are not alone in their inability to hire a basketball coach who can either: A) Advance deep in the NCAA Tournament; B) Inspire popularity among the fan base; C) Depart the position without some degree of failure or acrimony. Given all that’s been accomplished in the program’s history, though, the stakes are greater than with most.
It’s always something at State. Les Robinson lost so much they nicknamed the ACC Tournament play-in game in his honor. Herb Sendek didn’t beat North Carolina and/or Duke with the required frequency. Jim Valvano’s program got busted by the NCAA. Mark Gottfried’s teams played with a smidgeon of defensive commitment.
Sporting News always has defined the beginning of college basketball’s modern era as the 1985 expansion of the NCAA Tournament field to 64 teams. State has not had a single coach in that period leave for a better job or retirement. The administration ought to look back at this history and consider George Costanza’s “opposite” approach.
I mean, why even try, right? If you have to fire a coach, just give up, man.
The desire to paint NC State as impatient, delusional and a career killer is a little absurd I mean, it isn’t necessarily untrue, but in this case it feels like going off the deep end.
This is Mark freaking Gottfried we are talking about. A guy who can recruit like crazy, but who’s coaching style is best described as: roll the ball on the court and see what happens.
I ask because what it appears you’re after is high-level success consistently, and here’s what I think: Only a Hall of Fame caliber coach — somebody like a Tony Bennett, who creates a strong culture and flourishes in that culture — could possibly provide high-level success consistently at a place like NC State in a league like the current version of the ACC. You have to be a truly special coaching talent to win big consistently at NC State (without blatantly cheating) in this era of college basketball. And the fact that NC State fans are happy with nothing less, combined with the reality that the athletic director isn’t expected to be around much longer, makes it unlikely that a truly special, and established, coaching talent will be the next hire.
I mean, maybe.
I’m not here to speak or type in absolutes.
But it seems doubtful. Which means NC State will likely end up shopping from a second tier of candidates, and here’s what one second-tier candidate told me Thursday: “I wouldn’t touch that job. If making four NCAA Tournaments [in six years] gets you fired midseason [in your sixth year], it’s not a good job to take if you already have a good job.”
That seems to be the consensus in the industry. If you have a good job, don’t mess with the NC State job. And that’s probably why NC State, last time around, ended up hiring a television analyst who’d been fired from Alabama two years earlier.
Again, this is a general trend. That’s kind of the way things are in college basketball right now. Good coaches in the A-10 or MVC are pulling seven figures. The discrepancy between what you get at a P5 program and at a high mid-major (or the Big East and AAC which live somewhere in between depending on the program) becomes smaller when you consider the length of time available on that contract if you make the jump, i.e., you better win big and do it fast.
And overall, coaches don’t leave Power 5 programs for other P5 programs with much frequency — unless they choose to jump before pushed.
Sure you have the occasional “Buzz Williams to VT” shocker. The kind of surprise that makes every fanbase assume that if a moribund, second-tier Power conference program can get someone like that, “Surely we can get…”
(Man, this seems very familiar.)
But as I keep referring to my list from last year. Power move hires are very rare, and have generally involved coaches who were jumping before being pushed.
I have no idea why Washington still employs Lorenzo Romar, but I suspect it’s got something to do with the knowledge that Mark Few isn’t leaving Gonzaga, and other options are limited. So why not keep rolling the dice with the guy who annually recruits NBA lottery picks? (But that trick never works! This time for sure!)
Look, the SEC as a whole may care about football first, spring football second, football recruiting third and then, maybe men’s basketball. But they have money. Solid to spectacular facilities. Most have fertile recruiting areas. They tend to be patient with their basketball coaches — Fox is remains at Georgia, Jones at LSU, and my god, Andy Kennedy still putters along at Ole Miss. Yet, outside of Kentucky the SEC struggle to find guys to take the money when they do get around to making a change.
Every coaching change is rife with risk. Sure things are very, very few — and most people are lying when they say they knew it would work. Dana Altman was something like the 4th or 5th choice at Oregon — and was seeking out of Creighton. Sean Miller was at lest 4th on Arizona’s list. But Arkansas went out and got their man in Mike Anderson. So did Indiana when it got Tom Crean. Once upon a time, Georgia Tech and Clemson hired the best mid-major coaches available from the Dayton-area to much acclaim. One is gone, the other is in question.