Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Debbie Yow did all she could do about Doeren

Debbie Yow did about the only thing she could do.

Saturday, NC State’s athletics director issued a statement that said she and the University would honor a contract with football coach Dave Doeren. She included some fancy language about the program being on the right track despite not meeting its goals in Doeren’s fourth season, a post-season bowl game for being 6-6 the only lofty position attained and just barely. Here is a quick review:

In two games this year, the football team performed well but lost to a couple of premier Atlantic Coast Conference opponents—Clemson (11-1 overall; 7-1 ACC) and Florida State (9-3; 5-3)—and was lousy and lost to another top-notch ACC team—Louisville (9-3; 7-1)—which may have shown its true colors in its last two games of the season, both loses.

The Wolfpack had several miscues while losing to East Carolina (3-9), which showed coaching staff weaknesses, and losing at home against Boston College (6-6; 2-6), which showed coaching staff weaknesses. And then there was Miami (8-4; 5-3) which was a bit better than State that day. Those are the six losses.

For wins, State beat William & Mary (5-6 overall) and Old Dominion (9-3 overall), Wake Forest (6-6; 3-5), Syracuse (4-8; 2-6), Notre Dame (4-8; 2-3 against the ACC) and North Carolina (8-4; 5-3). The win over the Tar Heels might have saved Doeren from the unemployment line.

Let’s face it. Yow was in a tough spot following the Wolfpack’s 28-21 win in Chapel Hill. Winning that game is always most satisfying to Wolfpack fans who are then excited about its coach, its football program, and its prospects for the next season. The same euphoria happened in 2014 when State beat UNC 35-7 in Chapel Hill to lift its conference mark to 3-5.

Because non-conference scheduling includes games suspect for a program such as NC State, a better overall barometer is its record against conference teams. Wolfpack fans would give thumbs up to being 0-4 against out of league opponents just to be 8-0 in the ACC and play in and win the ACC football championship, last won in 1979.

Doeren’s ACC record is lacking to put it bluntly. He was an embarrassing 0-8 in 2013 in his first season, tying for 13th in the league, and was 3-5 the last three (tied for 9th each year). That’s 9-23 (.281 winning percentage) against ACC teams. To put that into perspective:
  • Tom O’Brien (2007-2012) was fired by Yow after a 22-26 (.458 winning percentage) ACC record in six seasons.
  • Chuck Amato (2000-2006) was 25-31 (.446) in seven seasons against ACC opponents and was let go.
  • Mike O’Cain (1993-1999) was 26-30 (.464) in the ACC in seven seasons and was fired.
  • Dick Sheridan (1986-1992) was 31-18-1 (.620), didn’t win a conference title, finished scond three times, and quit for various reasons.
  • Tom Reed (1983-1985) was 4-17 (.190) and didn’t have his contract renewed.
  • Monte Kiffin (1980-82) was 8-10 (.444) and didn’t have his contract renewed.
  • Bo Rein (1976-79 was 15-8 (.652) and left to coach at LSU.
  • Lou Holtz (1972-75) was 16-5-2 (.696) and left to coach the New York Jets.
So, the three coaches who preceded Doeren had better conference winning percentages but were fired. The worse of the last four worse remains for at least one more season but probably three. Because Yow didn’t make the move at this year, one can only surmise:
  • Yow honestly and truly believes Doeren has the football program on the right track despite the conference record and the miserable ACC finishes. Maybe the team played better, stronger, and harder and with more desire this year, but the record is the record. Years from now fans will remember three things about the 2016 season: the missed field goal at Clemson that would have won the game, the Notre Dame game played during Hurricane Matthew, and the win in Chapel Hill.
  • Yow considers losses to Clemson and Florida State as wins.
  • NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson discouraged a change because the University is in the midst of a $1.6 billion fund-raising effort for scholarships, research, programs and facilities and not to pay off a coach, and he wants nothing to interfere with his fund-raising effort; therefore,
  • There is no available money and no booster to pony up several million dollars for Yow to use to buy out Doeren’s contract which runs through 2019, three more seasons.
  • Yow could not quickly find a replacement. Or maybe she didn’t think a long search would yield a worthy alternate. Several coaches would love to coach NC State football but, at this point, would NC State football benefit from any of those? Would any top-notch coach from a Power 5 school want to work for Yow which is about the only downside to NC State football which has as good of overall facilities as any team in the conference and maybe the nation?
  • Considering Yow’s contract runs through July 2019, maybe she decided it’s not her problem and she’ll let her replacement deal with it if it needs to be dealt with at that time.
The guessing with Yow could go on forever, but that’s not worth anyone’s time or effort.  She’s hard to figure most of the time except that she wants the best for NC State, as long as it fits into her plans. For instance, a long-time wealthy booster offered to pay to put a roof over the permanent seats at Doak Field, the Wolfpack’s baseball park, but she rejected the proposal and requested the money for other projects. He turned her down.

What we know for sure is her willingness to dig in when she feels she’s right, which is all of the time. In response to an email sent to her at halftime of the 2015 UNC game in Raleigh when State was down 35-0, she replied that she and the fan have a difference of opinion of the direction of the football program. “You see the glass as half empty, and I see it as half full,” she wrote while watching the second half from Vaughn Towers, the “press box” at Carter-Finley Stadium.


Oh well, here’s where we are. Doeren gets a mild, cursory endorsement from his athletics director instead of being shown the door after four suspect seasons, and he’s on board for next season and, more than likely, to the end of his contract.

One wonders if after beating UNC Doeren requested the AD’s public support and maybe a better endorsement—a new contract and a raise—such as after the 2014 season when he received a two-year extension and a $400,000 salary increase based on a 3-13 ACC record and a signature win at UNC. He may have suggested to Yow that if he coaches the next three years without an extension, his ability to recruit successfully will be diminished. That may be so, but he can overcome that with more wins, a lot more wins.

Unless you get the right coach who wants to stay with you forever, college football coaching is a vicious cycle, sort of damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to success, projected success and changing coaches. 

In State’s “modern” age of football coaches beginning with Holtz only three coaches left the Wolfpack program with winning conference records. They did so on their own terms. Amato and O’Brien would have stayed forever if allowed. Sheridan might have if reasons other than illness had been settled.

With all the financial support given over the last 16 years and the record season ticket purchases, NC State fans deserve nothing less than 5-3 in the ACC every year with 6-2, 7-1 or 8-0 every so often, even with the Wolfpack joining perennial winners Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Even though Yow did about the only thing she could do with that announcement Saturday, Yow has set the table for Doeren. As noted above, Yow fired O’Brien for an ACC record of 22-26 in six seasons. In the ACC, Doeren is 9-23 after four seasons. So, while Yow is the AD, Doeren’s teams the next two seasons must be at least 13-3 to equal O’Brien’s record.

If Doeren goes 5-3 and then 8-0, or 6-2 and 7-1, or better, the agony Wolfpack fans have endured the last four years will not be forgotten but will be more of a distant memory. Of course, that’s only if the Wolfpack beats the Tar Heels at least once the next two seasons. That seems to quell the idea of his dismissal. It did this season. Maybe that’s why Yow did what she did.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Oh So Tired of Politics, This Year!

Should any of these four be in the White House? I say "NO!" What say you?

I’m tired. Oh, so tired.

It’s not my age as I near 65.

It’s politics, one of my three passions along with writing and golf.

Until recently; politics is out, sort of; not writing or golf.

The elections—presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial, and others—have me in a funk.

It’s not just the commercials and the debates.

It’s also the coverage thereof by the media.

It’s the discussion by others, non-politicians, non-media.

It goes on and on.

From politicians, surrogates, journalists, writers, reporters, opines, friends, family and many I’ve never met.

I studied politics in college: BA degree, political science, NC State University '77.

I used my degree to help predict and call elections in North Carolina for United Press International. That was in the late 1970s, early 1980s.

I used to love to get involved in campaigns from stuffing envelopes, to placing yard signs, to making phone calls, to sending emails, to writing letters to the editor, to learning the new methods of Twitter et al.

Not anymore.

It’s too aggressive these days; it’s too negative.

The candidates are more and more negative.

The news media doesn't tell you everything, just what it wants to report.
I’m not sure of the candidates’ platform, what they are for except stuff that should not be left up to politics and government oversight.

I only hear what they say their opponents are for or against. It’s frustrating.

Just because one says another is for or against something doesn’t mean the candidate speaking has the opposite stance. It’s all about getting elected no matter what.

The press, the media, the television commentators and questioners, the newspaper reporters, the editorial writers, the radio interviewers and show hosts are all so biased, at least to me and probably to many others.

Trust in the media is no better than trust in the presidential nominees of the two major parties.

Instead of reporting, the media decides what to report and usually not the entire story due to space and time limitations. And the stories are usually slanted for one candidate or against another. The media reports on campaigning, not issues. It’s not fair.

Now, it’s two weeks before the elections.

Voting is underway in many states.

I’ll cast a ballot, I’ll vote on November 8 for sure. Early voting is not as exciting as going to the polls that day. But I might vote early, just to get it behind me.

But I’ll probably not for every office. That's not a cop-out. If there's no one I want, I do not have to vote for that office from the top of the ballot to the bottom.

The selections for President are not worthy of my vote; none of them. The two major presidential candidates include one who is a liar and one who will not tell the truth. You decide who is who.

The candidates for senator in North Carolina rarely campaign on their overall record, preferring to condemn the other.

In the race for North Carolina governor, both are career politicians who challenge each other with memorized verse. One is in favor of bad legislation; the other says he will repeal bad legislation but he will not have legislative support to do it, so is he lying?

Politics is a mess, right now, in every sense of the words “politics” and “mess.”

So, what to do?

That’s easy.

For the next two weeks, I’ll read no more about politics or government. I’ll watch and listen to no television or radio shows dedicated to news and the gossip “Hollywood” shows. The Presidential debate should only be watched for a good laugh, entertainment purposes at best.

I suggest you do the same.

If for no other reason than your sanity, keeping it that is.

And, to stop being tired. Oh, so tired.

One last thing. Tired or not, I'll stay up election night to see who wins all the races. Politics is one of my passions, you know.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The disappearing printed newspaper: The N&O

With the naming of Sarah Glines as the President and Publisher of The News & Observer, the newspaper’s writing soon may be exclusively on the wall or some other flat surface.

It’s at least a bit closer now than ever before. It probably won’t be long that it’s so, exclusively.

It could be the wall of a Facebook page or the face wall of a smart phone or a notebook or a laptop or the old-fashioned desk-top computer.

Don’t be surprised if one day soon or a few days later that’s where you’ll only be able to find The Old Reliable, The News & Observer, published since way before our time and tossed in the wee hours of the morning onto countless driveways and yards, sold at many a newsstands, hawked on the streets of Raleigh by vendors who carried the newspaper in large satchels, and responsible for thousands of stained hands from newsprint ink that easily smears, or used to.

Don’t be surprised at all if the glory days of the printed edition of the bastion of North Carolina Democratic Party politics disappears from our eyes and from our morning breakfast table, from it being folded under an arm of a business executive trying to carry a briefcase (also being replaced by smart technology) while drinking a cup of coffee.

It will be no blame of Ms. Glines that the printed news will be disappearing from our very eyes and hands. She’s will not be the reason for the demise of newsprint and ink and the churning of the rapidly running presses that occasionally fail on the morning after an important event; she’s just the messenger who appears to have been hired to address the decline of the printed newspaper and increase The N&O’s on-line presence, to increase its viewership—sounds like TV—and electronic readership and cyber “browsership” or whatever you want to call it.

She has arrived in Raleigh to convince internet surfers to The N&O’s website to click on or touch an advertisement so the newspaper’s expenses are covered by the online commercial while the printed paid announcements disappear from our hands and fall into cyberspace.

Here’s a little background on Ms. Glines, something you may have missed completely by not getting the print edition or you might have skipped over on the newspaper’s website or smart phone app. You may have actually read about her as you held the newspaper in your hands, much like we do with books we are encouraged to pick up in our hands, to go to the library to check out, and read.

Ms. Glines is a veteran of writing and reporting the news as well as developing newspaper presence, especially in out-lying areas. She’s a wizard at increasing awareness of all the media she has touched. She wants to prepare the newspaper for the future which is code for less print and more Internet. Her impressive credentials are too long to list but are easily retrievable at the newspaper’s website: Sarah Glines named Publisher of The News & Observer.

Here’s a scary prediction, at least to me. First, the newspaper will cut back on days of the print edition, combining Monday with Tuesday, Wednesday with Thursday, and Friday with Saturday. So, with the Sunday newspaper, we’ll get four days of print, maybe. Eventually, the print edition will decrease to two days, Sunday and Wednesday, as Ms. Glines and staff continue the push readership to the website, and then, maybe, the printed newspaper will disappear completely. This may actually reduce “circulation/readership.”

Most of us are savvy about getting our news from sources who report it the way we want it. For instance, there are several sources for NC State Wolfpack sports, though in some cases, such as the athletics department site,, the writing leads one to believe the Wolfpack always wins even when losing. Many “non-official-news media” sites give us terrible reporting that’s much more biased but less opinionated than The N&O. But that’s what those other website followers want, the gospel according to the fans.

Another example: The N&O’s baseball coverage (print and on-line) doesn’t hold a candle to where there’s more information, more stats, more game insight, more play-by-play, and videos that are fun to watch over and over. If you’re getting results from the Internet, is much better than The N&O.

For the Donald Trump fans or the Hillary Clinton followers, why wade through coverage from people who are supposed to be non-biased when you can cut to the chase, cut to what you want to hear by clicking on several websites to give you the biased reporting to start your day off in a good mood instead of one that adversarial.

 Even the comics are funnier through Google searches, and there are more of them than published by The News & Observer.

The dark day when the presses stop rolling in Raleigh is coming. The print edition of The News & Observer is slowly going away. The advertising is just not available, we are told, to pay for it. Circulation has been hurt with the Internet, we are told. Having fewer staff writers means less original reporting and more use of wire service stories, especially McClatchy originated articles. (Hey! Go to the McClatchy DC app which is great for politics and find complete stories that have many times been edited for the local print edition.)

However, all that said here’s something for President and Publisher Glines to ask herself: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Is the sky falling because it’s so expensive to print and distribute the newspaper while the advertising to support it is down? Or has the reduction of staff also taken a hit on the quality of the writing and reporting so the readership is turning elsewhere and therefore with reduced circulation the advertising has turned away.

If you can answer those questions, you may have the answer for the chicken and egg query.  And you could be on to something which could lead to a resurgence of the print edition. Doubtful! 

Best bet is we’re seeing the final days of the printed newspaper. Ms. Glines has a job to do. Just how quickly it happens is to be seen, and probably on-line.

EDITOR NOTE: My parents, long before me, and I are long-time subscribers to The News & Observer print edition. Daily I retrieve the newspaper from my front yard and read it while drinking a cup of coffee and/or taking my morning constitutional. Balancing the iPad on my knees is not easy to do.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Get your head out of the sand, Roy!

Considering he’s just a basketball coach, it’s not surprising Roy Williams, the current savior of UNC basketball, has little depth of thinking about anything other than sports in general and, in particular, basketball. He readily admits getting his education beyond his job from just one television outlet: ESPN. “If it’s not on ESPN, I don’t watch it,” he said recently as he criticized the sports network for two things: his team’s schedule days and comments by ESPN announcers.

Roy, the current beneficiary of educational-scandal-basketball player retention which is a tradition at UNC like none other, would prefer games played on Saturday and Wednesday only so he can keep up when his team plays and what day of the week is at hand. He prefers that to keeping a printed schedule and a physical calendar nearby or maybe having one of his assistants load the information on his iPhone or whatever communication device he uses, if he uses one at all. You can bet the assistant coaches and the players know the day of the week, the basketball schedule, and how to use an iPhone. They could set up notification alarms so Roy doesn't have to search for the dates.

And, Roy thinks discussing during a game the lucrative future of current basketball players should be out-of-bounds even though everyone knows playing college basketball, especially for his Tar Heels or up the road a few miles at Duke is just an intermediary (that means “go-between,” Roy) step from high school to the true professional level of the NBA, not the professional level of college basketball, especially at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke.

Who knows what sand pile Roy had his head in the many years he’s been in the business, but from the time Roy was a player to a student assistant and so on and so forth to his lucrative and over-paid position as the Tar Heels head coach, his income level and the increase in his team’s annual budget has been directly related to money flowing from television revenues to all of college basketball and especially to UNC.

Roy must want control of ESPN for the schedule and censorship authority of announcers who make their money from being popular or unpopular with their viewers—not including Roy, obviously. Of course, freedom of speech has nothing to do with what Roy wants.

Roy thinks ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference are partners, but that’s stretching reality, not just a little but a lot. ESPN funds the ACC and does so with authority and little consideration for league fairness. Why would the network insist the two UNC-Duke basketball games be played just 17 days apart (February 17 and March 5)? The first date is after the Super Bowl (no attention to another sport) and both dates are during an important ratings period. The hype for those games is nauseating to anyone except the fans of UNC and Duke, but Roy has no regrets about that. Incidentally, from February 6 through February 27, the Tar Heels play games Saturday, Tuesday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, and Saturday. That’s perfect for Roy because he can keep up with the schedule and days of the week.

What’s really hilarious (and sad) about Roy and his recent venting of the schedule and commentator comments is the space newspapers and television stations give Roy on his soapbox. It’s insulting enough the media reports what he and other coaches regularly say without challenging them and their comments. There are many more and much more important things in this world than how Roy Williams feels about his basketball schedule and what a TV commentator says about the future of a college student.

Look Roy, at the time of your diatribe your team was 18-2 overall and 7-0 in the ACC. Quit complaining, do your job, and expand your horizons. There are hundreds of additional options for viewing and learning on your television. Check the channel lineup. There’s a button on your remote for that, if you can find it.

So, Roy, if you don’t take time to read anything other than opposition scouting reports and the multitude of stats compiled by your assistants, at least take a few minutes to watch a national news program or two and maybe the History Channel or even the Cartoon Network. You’ll find a bigger and more important world out there than just college basketball, and your schedule and what someone says about college players will not be so bothersome to you.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Is Black the new Red for Wolfpack athletics?

Tuning in on TV to watch last Thursday’s home basketball game against Louisville, I encouraged the team wearing white uniforms to score and to play aggressive defense. My wife soon explained my team, the NC State Wolfpack, was wearing black. Louisville, the visiting team, was wearing white, a reversal of typical garb for college basketball. Home teams are usually in white (or a light color); visitors are in a team color other than white.

In addition to the confusing moment and the uneasy feeling the color selection offered throughout the game, the use of black uniforms simply looked awful! It was sacrilege of sorts. Unfortunately, NC State’s use of colors other than red and white in recent years has not been limited to basketball. In football last fall, Syracuse came to Raleigh to play a home team (the Wolfpack) decked from helmet to footwear in gray. And, in the Belk Bowl, "home team" Mississippi State was in its traditional maroon jerseys and helmets and gray pants, all team colors. My alma mater, NC State, wore black pants, white jerseys and black helmets. Where on the field was the Red and White Wolfpack?

There are many positives about college traditions, but, for some reason, recent Wolfpack athletics invaders who determine uniform colors have strayed from the Wolfpack’s longtime traditional red and white. And, the change has not been limited to colors. When Dick Sheridan was hired in 1986 to coach football, he changed the school’s traditional block “S” logo to a logo in the shape of a diamond to copy the logo he had at Furman. School traditionalists didn’t like it but Sheridan was successful on the field so he got his way, and the block “S” was tossed aside for all sports. At least he stuck with red and white uniforms.

When Sheridan left after seven seasons, basketball coach and eventual athletics director Les Robinson, a NC State alum and traditionalist, returned the men’s basketball program to the block “S” (with a smaller “N” and “C” embedded in the “S”). When Wolfpack alum Chuck Amato took over the football program in 2000, the block “S” logo returned to Carter-Finley Stadium with him. Thank goodness for Les and Chuck. About the only “odd” uniform change over the years, prior to the current football and basketball proprietors, was the football team wearing solid red uniforms, or switching the helmet from red to white and from white to red, but for full seasons.

NC State traditions have included the nickname Cow College, an affectionate salute to our College of Agriculture, an important part of the University’s founding. It’s understandable in today’s high tech world at State of the desire to downplay Cow College. The marching and pep bands no longer concludes football and basketball games with the playing of “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” But if getting away from our roots is so important to some, why did the University name its ice cream “Howling Cow?” Isn't that just a louder version of saying “Moo U!”

The University has many great traditions, and it creates more as the years go by. A recently installed tradition on the State campus is lighting the Memorial Bell Tower in a red glow for special reasons, such as winning a big game. Maybe the administration should consider using black lights instead or turning off the spotlights all together to give it that black tone if indeed Black is the new Red at NC State.

Last Thursday’s basketball game uniform situation was so confusing that, at one point, a Louisville player was substituted out and headed to the NC State bench instead of to the Cardinals’ bench where his team was wearing white uniforms. The player seemed embarrassed as he walked the length of the court behind the scorer’s table to return to his team. Easy mistake to make, huh?

Traditions are important to colleges and universities. One basic tradition at NC State is red and white team colors, not black or gray, no matter what the players may desire to wear. The color of the uniform will not make them play any better and it could be detrimental. The reason for standardizing team colors is for recognition—quick, what are Penn State’s colors; how about Alabama, Clemson, Kentucky, Southern Cal?—something not evident with NC State against Louisville last week.

If the use of colors other than red and white continues at NC State, then it’s time to re-write the Wolfpack fight song: We’re the Red and White and Black and Gray from State and we know we are the best. And, should the NC State Alumni Association change its blog title from Red & White for Life to Red & White & Black & Gray for Life?

Traditions matter, especially the Red and White tradition at NC State. If the Wolfpack wants to make a #Statement, winning is of utmost importance. Using only Red and  White uniforms is a close second.
Post Script: Sunday night at Wake Forest, the Wolfpack wore the traditional road red jerseys and shorts. The results of the game were the same as the first two conference gamesa loss. If it's any consolation, State looked a lot better losing this time than it did against Louisville. Hopefully, when the Wolfpack visits North Carolina later this week, we'll be wearing RED!
Thanks to the many loyal Wolfpack faithful who have read this post and who agree with my take. The comments below are just a few. I've heard from many more via email and telephone calls. NC State is the Red & White, and we should not deviate from it. But one man's opinion carries little weight. 

  • If you want to make a difference, then you need to put pressure on the Department of Athletics to right its wrong and return all team uniforms to combinations of Red & White only! If you want to make a difference, you need to contact Athletics Director Debbie Yow. email:; office phone 919-515-2109. Tell her RED & WHITE...ONLY!
  • You can also tell the NCSU Board of Trustees to take action, to limit our athletics teams to Red & White uniforms. Send your email to PJ Teal, Secretary of the University, at who will forward your comments to the full BOT.