Tudor: Yow needs to make charmed hire to reach her goals

ctudor@newsobserver.comNovember 27, 2012 

N.C. State's Tom O'Brien talks with Athletic Director Debbie Yow during the first day of fall practice for N.C. State Tuesday August 3, 2010.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com

While you have to admire N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow for setting a high football bar, it’s going to take something close to a charmed coaching hire for those goals to be accomplished.

After firing sixth-year coach Tom O’Brien on Sunday, Yow said the next coach should be someone capable of turning the Wolfpack into a top-25 program.

Senior offensive lineman Camden Wentz said Yow was more ardent in her discussions with the team. Wentz said Yow referred to a new coach who would bring in “Alabama-type talent.”

Almost nothing’s impossible in sports, but here’s an imposing to-do checklist of what would have to happen for the Wolfpack to get Alabama-type talent:

•  Overwhelmingly dominant in-state recruiting: Mack Brown, at North Carolina in the ’80s and ’90s, ruled in-state recruiting more than any North Carolina-based coach since the formation of the ACC in 1953.

So successful were Brown and his staff that it was rare for a top-10 in-state player to pick another school, even those from the SEC.

And yet, Brown never won an ACC title, much less a national championship. He had teams that finished 19th (1992 and ’93), 10th (’96) and sixth (’97) in the Associated Press final polls but couldn’t beat Florida State or land a spot in of the five major bowl games of that era.

Last year, six of the state’s top 10 recruits, according to Rivals.com, signed with SEC schools. Two others signed with Clemson. The top four picked Florida and Georgia, which hooked Raleigh running back Keith Marshall. North Carolina signed three players ranked in the top 20, Duke signed two. N.C. State signed four players ranked Nos. 22-30, according to Rivals. In the 2013 class, N.C. State has commitments from three players ranked Nos. 23-30. Raleigh’s Connor Mitch, the state’s top-rated quarterback prospect, signed with South Carolina.

•  Above-average recruiting in Virginia: Historically, N.C. State has had better luck finding players in Florida, South Carolina and at times Pennsylvania than in Virginia.

That situation needs to change dramatically. Recruiting Florida only gets more difficult each season and the suffocating shadow of the SEC shows no hint of relenting.

Virginia doesn’t have Florida-like talent in numbers, but the state is among the 10 or so most fertile in the nation.

There was an expectation that O’Brien would improve the Wolfpack’s fortunes in Virginia and his final team certainly wouldn’t have finished 7-5 without quarterback Mike Glennon (Centreville, Va.) and defensive lineman Brian Slay (Ashburn, Va.), but there wasn’t another Virginian on the Wolfpack roster for Saturday’s final regular-season game.

The new Wolfpack coach will arrive at a time when Virginia Tech (6-6), Virginia (4-8) and Maryland (4-8) are down and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora isn’t yet entrenched in Virginia.

•  ACC success: The shortest route to national significance is for the program to win at least six league games each season. The Wolfpack has won six ACC games just five times, though, most recently in 1994. Since 1969, N.C. State has won five or more league games in consecutive seasons just once – in 1991 and 1992.North Carolina hasn’t won six league games since Mack Brown left in 1997. Duke hasn’t done it since Steve Spurrier left in 1989.

In a 12-game regular season, the math is simple – six conference wins and no worse than 3-1 in nonconference games. That adds up to 9-3, which would be enough for a top-25 ranking. That said, a 9-3 record would impress absolutely no one in Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.

But given the weak nature of ACC football, it shouldn’t take a great deal of talent and coaching to win six league games year after year. What’s more, the arrival of Pittsburgh and Syracuse almost surely will dilute the league’s football.

•  My suggestion: Al Golden of Miami – assuming, that is, he hasn’t been pulled into the Nevin Shapiro cesspool.

No one could have said this only two or three years ago, but N.C. State is a better football job now than Miami, and that’s while the Wolfpack has been an average team.

Golden, 43, has established that he can recruit, make solid hires, win games and maintain order even in the midst of a dumpster fire.

Yow probably has other people in mind – maybe one she’s already lined up – but Golden has to realize it’s only going to get worse where he is now.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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