JOHNSON: Gottfried Fits The Mold

While no one saw it coming, the hiring of Mark Gottfried fits the criteria Yow laid out when she started searching for a coach.

Sometime during the Debbie Yow vs. Gary Williams fight on Tuesday afternoon, NC State hired a new basketball coach.

Mark Gottfried, a coach whose name hadn't been referenced as a serious candidate by any media outlet at any point during the search, was named head coach of the men's basketball program on Tuesday.

Just a day earlier, Yow sent out a letter to the entirety of the Wolfpack Club that made it sound as though the search was back to square one. She wrote the search had been a challenge and went as far as to state the program was in ‘poor shape' and needed a ‘special effort' to rebuild.

But there Gottfried was on Tuesday afternoon, standing at the podium with a red NC State tie on and saying all the right things about getting the Pack program back on top. Yow admitted things had progressed so quickly that even on Monday evening she wasn't sure that Gottfried would want to leave broadcasting.

"Fortunately he made a choice today to sign and to officially become our head coach," Yow said. "I don't have a crystal ball and I had no way of knowing yesterday that would happen today."

And while Gottfried's name hadn't come up, the former Alabama coach meets every piece of criteria that Yow laid out in her original press conference.

"I think ideally we would want a coach who could be here 10 years, 12 years, 15 years," Yow said in her initial press conference.

Gottfried is 47 years old, which actually makes him a year younger than the much-talked-about Gregg Marshall. If all goes well, Gottfried could be at NC State for another 20 years.

"We're going to look for someone who has what I call the stuff," Yow said. "They have the ability to turn a program, have the ability to win at a high level and that you see that in their career. Wherever they go, they win. This is an art, it's not a science. There are coaches that you could sit down anywhere and they would figure it out. That's the kind of person we're looking for."

Alabama had never been to the Elite Eight before Mark Gottfried. He took them there. They had never been ranked No. 1 in the nation before Mark Gottfried. He got them there too. Gottfried took the program to places it had never been before, and was at one point making more money than the head football coach.

It's easy to look at Gottfried's overall SEC record of 84-83 and say that if he can't win in the ACC if he could barely win in the SEC. But the SEC of the early 2000s was actually a very good basketball conference, and he won a conference championship during his time there – something that hasn't happened at NC State in over 20 years.

Of course, you can't discuss the glory years of Gottfried's tenure without pointing out the way his career fell apart at his alma mater. Gottfried had issues on and off the court that ultimately led to a mid-season resignation.

"We had a great run for a long time and I don't think I did nearly as good a job of sustaining that. A lot of mistakes were made," Gottfried said. "Staff decisions, player decisions – a lot of other decisions. Those are things you learn from, you move on from and you move forward."

If Gottfried can just replicate his success with Alabama and avoid the same mistakes that led to his original downfall, he will have a successful tenure at NC State... he'll be doing things that haven't been done in many years in Raleigh.


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