NC State: The Search for a Coach
Or an elite program whichever comes first. The absolute joy of Wolfpack nation has since subsided into a frenzy of anxiety and grandiose exaggerations of what NC State basketball was, is, and can be assuming the right coach is hire. In fact I was actually thrilled Herb Sendek took the Arizona St. job during the Final Four because it gave all of us here in Tar Heel nation a new source of unending entertainment instead of being fully subjected to one of the worst Final Fours in recent memory. Now the search is on and NC State AD who is loved by the State faithful about as much as Herb Sendek was is charged with orchestrating a coaching search which will meet the following criteria as set forth by the fans: 1. A proven winner or as some call it a "big name coach." 2. A coach who has an ego and can stand up to the evil machinations of Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. 3. A coach who is able to return NC State to its rightful place as king and ruler of the basketball world which according to local basketball historians is a position the Wolfpack occupied for many decades before the fall of Jimmy V the Great of Long Island. 4. A coach who can bring back the passion and fire to Wolfpack basketball while wowing the press with pithy sound bites. 5. A coach who can recruit high caliber players, win ACC titles, drive deep into the NCAA Tournament, win a national championship, beat Duke and UNC at least once a year apiece, and also find a cure for the common cold or genital herpes. And there is but one man who is able to fulfill this criteria and resurrect the red and white from a curse of biblical proportions and that is.... Rick Barnes, Head Coach, University of Texas Rick Barnes was once the head coach at Clemson and the legend has been repeated many a time around BBQ cookers in and around Wake County that the Hickory, NC native once stood tall against the Dark Wizard of Chapel Hill Dean Smith during an ACC Tournament game. Smith had made a comment directly to a Clemson player and Barnes took exception. With the coaches huddled with the referees at midcourt Barnes expressed his displeasure with Smith who responded in kind and appeared to come very close to smacking Barnes upside the head. Clemson went on to win the game. Barnes also did build Clemson up to a Sweet 16 school and had them ranked in the top 10 at one point. Since arriving in Texas he has done similar work and since Texas is a bigger school with a bigger name he has been able to recruit many quality players and get Texas near the top of the college game. These two factors comprise the full extent as to why State fans want Barnes so bad. And make no mistake, he is target #1 to the point rumors are flying that he has been offered $2 million(which is more than Roy and K make and they actually have national titles on their resume.) It is believed that Barnes is the dragon slayer and he alone is able to take on the beast in Chapel Hill and Durham. It is believed that Barnes will be able to grab the great recruits and put NC State on the same level with UNC and Duke. That being said, there is no evidence that Barnes will have anymore success against Roy and K than he has at Texas or even while he was at Clemson. At Clemson Barnes was 2-10 against UNC which included the 1996 ACC Tournament win and the 2000. Barnes was 0-8 against K while at Clemson though the Tigers did beat Duke during K's "bad back season" in 1995 to register 2 wins. If memory serves Texas has played the Devils twice in two years and lost both games the last by 30 points. While Roy was at Kansas Barnes was 1-4 against him beating the Jayhawks in Austin during his second season there. He did beat UNC in the 2004 NCAA Tournament for his second win against Roy. So combining all those together Barnes has a 6-24 record against UNC, Duke, Roy, and K. Now, some will say that Clemson is Clemson, but his success against either coach or school is not one to blow the doors off. It also a folly to believe that he will necessarily be able to recreate the magic he had at Clemson or Texas at NC State. I have little doubt he will do well but how well? Texas and Clemson were a little more lenient on what kinds of players he recruited where NC State will be less likely to allow things to move in the direction of the Jimmy V days. Exhibit A in this line of thought is Texas guard P.J. Tucker who went to high school in Raleigh. Now, what possible reason could there be which permitted a quality talent such as Tucker to leave the state. If you said his grades then you win a prize. In other words recruiting at State may prove to be more difficult than recruiting at Texas or Clemson. I also should note that I have seen little evidence that Barnes is that great of a game coach. I saw one game this season versus Texas A&M in which he called timeout with 11 seconds on the shot clock and 18 seconds on the game clock, relayed a play, and then sent his team back out on the floor. P.J. Tucker proceeded to dribble the shot clock out because he ignored it and watched the game clock instead. The fault is primarily on Tucker but I would think that Barnes as a top flight coach would make sure than kind of stuff does not happen. There are other names to be bantered around but until the shoe drops on Barnes here I am not going to waste my time writing about them. I honestly think Barnes would be a fool to leave Texas. His program is successful, it is a football school which means he endures far less pressure than he would at NC State and being in the same orbit as Roy and K means you could at best the third choice for attention among local head coaches. And regardless of what State fans may say about how much they love him, if it comes five years have past and he still has not posted any progress above where Sendek was at they will turn on his like a moccassin in the summer. Staying at Texas is a win-win for Barnes since his program apparatus is already in place. Coming to NC State means starting over and if he truly misses the passion of basketball 24/7 which is found in North Carolina, then he may come back. Of course I despise moving so if I were him I would stay put for no other reason but the desire to stay settled.