ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Be Careful What You Wish For
by Brian North
4/13/06

Sports fans are a hard group to please. They always want their team to win, win spectacularly, and win convincingly. When their team doesn't win, they get upset and want changes. But fans need to be careful what they wish for.

Most ECU fans are delighted to watch what is happening 90 miles to the west. A vocal group of NC State fans wanted Wolfpack basketball coach Herb Sendek out of their program despite the fact he rebuilt a downtrodden program back to top-25 status. Sendek led the 'Pack to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances and won at least 20 games in four different seasons (he was the 2004 ACC Coach of the Year). But I talked to several NC State fans who thought Herb was either boring, snobby, or both. They said his offense was horrible, he couldn't recruit top players, and couldn't beat UNC or Duke. Those fans got what they wished for. Sendek finally wore down after years of sniping, and left for a new job where he might be more appreciated.

It's true Herb Sendek struggled against Duke and North Carolina, but who didn't? Sendek's program was on a continuous upslope, and he ran a clean program that graduated players and made them accountable. Isn't it horrible being a fan of a constant winner that graduates players (the reason for going to college)?

Now State fans can't find a coach. They thought Rick Barnes would come running back to the ACC, but he has too good of a thing at Texas. They thought John Calipari would take the money and run to Raleigh, but he saw a no-win situation going up against ol' Roy and Coach K and decided to stay in Memphis where he has a nice program set up to be in the top 10 year in and year out. Now it's on to option number three, and State fans are starting to get worried. Their top two choices to take the 'Pack to the next level have left them hanging. Be careful what you wish for.

ECU fans should know the feeling. Many clamored for Steve Logan to be fired after the all-time winningest football coach in ECU history suffered through a 4-8 season in 2001 (he had one losing season from 1994 to 2000). Logan was unceremoniously fired, and the football program is just starting to get back to where it was when Steve was kicked to the curb.

What's done is done and you can't go back and change the past, but fans could certainly evaluate the present better based on past experiences. There is an old saying, don't cut off your nose to spite your face. Many fans suffer through temporary insanity and want changes made just because they are not happy. But staying the course with a plan is usually the best way.

Sometimes change is for the best, but most times patience has its rewards. Only time will tell if Ricky Stokes will work out as ECU's basketball coach. Joe Dooley doesn't look so bad now seven years after he was fired (he is the only basketball coach in ECU history with a winning record). Skip Holtz looks like the right man to lead ECU football back to prominence, and the jury is still out on Billy Godwin as head coach of the baseball team.

Now State fans are getting nervous because one wish came true (good luck Herb), while a nightmare may just be starting. Be careful what you wish for, it just may come true.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com