Wetsell: Reunited, And It Feels So Good

State fans, the time has come to put your differences behind you., to put to rest the rumblings that have for too long shaken your spirit.

A new coach has been hired, and a new day has dawned.

Herb Sunshine Squad, I'd like you to meet Lunatic Fringe. Boosters, I want to reintroduce you to Season Ticket Holders. Faculty, this is your old friend Alumni. Everyone, this is Sidney Lowe. Sidney, this is everyone. Now, everyone lean in for a big group hug. Ahem, some of you aren't feeling it. Lean in!

The Herb or no-Herb days are gone. Not since Roe vs. Wade have there been such heated opinions on either side of an issue. You don't talk about abortion at work, because if your cubicle-mate finds out you aren't a militant Pro-Lifer then she's not going to lend you vending machine money anymore, or even worse, she'll ask you to give back the money you already owe. It was kind of the same with NC State basketball, except for the not-talking-about-it part. With every game, everyone always talked about keeping or firing Herb. I know I seriously damaged some friendships by using the words "good" and "Sendek" in the same sentence.

You should be more than thankful that you can put those days behind you. Sidney Lowe is the kind of hire that can mend a fractured fanbase. And for the most part, fan reaction has been very positive. Take these quotes from email dialogues I had recently with fellow fans:

Robert Crate, Fuquay-Varina, NC:
"I'm very excited. I've already written him an open letter of my support, and I sent another one to Herb Sendek thanking him for leaving the program in such great condition. Do you want to read my letter?"

Warren Mathis, Gastonia, NC:
"Dude, he's going to be awesome. I was cruising Franklin St., and lookin' at the windshield stickers on some Honda CRX's with boomin' systems, and got some good ideas for future headlines, like: "Lowe and Behold: State Wins!" or "Sweet and Lowe: State Wins!" or "On the DownLowe: State Wins!"

John Burk, Charlotte, NC:
"Our gain is Arizona State's loss! I'm holding onto the firesendek.com domain name, so I can make a killing reselling it to the top bidder—once ASU's program ascends to mediocrity."

Charlene Smith, Concord, NC:
"Sidney Lowe is going to be great. He's going to bring the fire and emotion we need. I think he's had a chip on his should ever since the Charlotte Hornets started Michael Holton over him."

"State had a reputation for always being supportive and loud. If State was down by 20, fans just cheered that much harder."
But praise is not flowing from everyone. Some fans are still in the habit of speaking negatively about the program.

Sidney Lowe is a hire whom any State fan should be excited about. Yes, many thought if State went the Wolfpack-family route that Lowe's former teammate Dereck Whittenburg, a successful low-major college coach, would be the choice. But because of his NBA grooming, Lowe may have even more upside.

Lowe's bio has been well-documented, and no, he's not Phil Jackson. But it seems some fans are simply excited to vocalize their doubt. Let me beseech you: the war is over, please lay down any and all negativity. Any coaching hire is a gamble (aside from Roy Williams). Be you former Herb-supporters who feel frustrated that fans now have a riskier gamble for the future than with Herb, or former Herb-haters who feel frustrated that State now has a riskier gamble for the future than with Herb, put a "former" before those feelings, too. It is a bigger gamble, but there is an opportunity to win bigger stakes.

Moreover, by hiring a Wolfpacker, one can bet safely that NC State will have a coach who will give his heart and soul to the university, and that he won't just jaunt off to the west coast once his stock soars, like some coaches. Um, no, not Sendek, I was referring to Steve Lavin.

I think maybe fans should tread lightly as things move forward. Everyone says they are excited, but the Sendek era has conditioned NC State fans to be defensive and irritable, and the coaching search didn't help. Cynical and critical behavior is so natural that it's already coloring how fans and the media talk about this new hire. They're already questioning: why did State hire Lowe and not someone else? They're pondering: how will this impossible fanbase react if Lowe struggles?

Take this quote I read in an advance copy of Greg Doyel's next column, which I procured from a very reliable source, named ESP: "Sidney Lowe is no Herb Sendek, and I hate NC State and I shall destroy Raleigh." So, you see, there is still some negativity out there.

The truth is that State's fanbase should be one of the best reasons to play for and coach at State. State had a reputation for always being supportive and loud. If State was down by 20, fans just cheered that much harder.

So hug and pledge to express only cheers, even if next season begins worse than Herb's last season (which really was pretty decent). No more "black-shirt" campaigns, no more LTR ransoms.

There, that was a good hug. I believe Pack fans are all friends again.

Pack Pride Top Stories