To the surprise of few, Sidney Lowe was kindly relieved of his duties as North Carolina State’s head coach this afternoon, “resigning” after five NCAA Tournament-less seasons in Raleigh.
Immediately this afternoon, rumors and unfounded reports matriculated around the interwebs suggesting possible replacements. Already, we’re hearing Arizona’s Sean Miller, Texas’ Rick Barnes, and Georgia’s Mark Fox as coaches that both the school and local media may be interested in bringing in to man the sidelines at the RBC Center.
But here’s the caveat to all these lofty names: NC State is not a destination for premier head coaches…and this preliminary speculation is laughable. So give me a day to enjoy this, then I would appreciate if the entire Wolfpack athletic department and community dial down their expectations for a known commodity to come in and infuse excitement into the basketball program.
Locally, the NC State head basketball not only competes for face time, he competes for talent. With the exception of the late signing of C.J Leslie in 2010, the last homegrown McDonalds All-American to sign with the Wolfpack was Scooter Sherrill in 2000. Do you even remember him? I was even tweeted that NC State is the “fourth best coaching job in the ACC.” Not only this that up for debate, it’s probably not something to really even boast about.
So how should the athletic department diagram this up? If they can’t get the recently relieved Jeff Capel – who will certainly rebound after an ugly two seasons in Norman – I suspect the next the head coach of NC State will come from the lowest seeded low-/mid-major team that reaches the second weekend of the upcoming tournament. The Wolfpack, after striking out trying to lure a few BCS-conference coaches already with a seven-figure contract and secure gig, will panic, and likely pluck college basketball’s latest sweetheart, a coach likely blinded by the opportunity to coach with a higher salary, budget, and recruiting breadth, overlooking the challenges that await.
Nearly every year, this sort of instant success has propelled lesser known coaches to much higher ground. We’ve seen it with a bevy of names – some for better or worse. Guys like Dan Munson, Bruce Pearl, Todd Lickliter, Stan Heath, have all climbed the coaching ladder quicker than others due primarily because of coaching a Cinderella.
Bottom line, I’m excited to watch it unfold, if not for the pure unintentional humor it provides. If Oregon can’t get Tom Izzo, North Carolina State can’t get whoever the heck they’re salivating over on this very evening.