Lail: No Room For Error

It's the modern-day equivalent of a disgruntled fan placing a "For Sale" sign in the yard of an embattled coach.

For most of the week of November 3, the most popular article on the News & Observer's website was one called "Cowher buys in Raleigh." This article described how Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher – a State grad – bought a new home in North Raleigh, causing speculation that the coach planned to move to the City of Oaks in the future.

The kicker? That article was originally published in late-April, not early November.

The insinuation is that the "Cowher buys" article was getting some serious pub most likely from being emailed around cyberspace. And the only reason I can think that that would happen is that some N.C. State fans (and perhaps a few UNC fans) are studying the piece for any clue at all that would suggest that Cowher is clandestinely planning to coach college ball in the Triangle next year or in years to come.

In other words, there are at least a fair number of fans who wish someone other than Chuck Amato was coaching the Wolfpack.

Check out the titles of two threads found recently on Pack Pride's message boards:
-"Is it time for Chuck to go or does he deserve another year?" -"Anyone still mad with the preseason N&O Chuck cartoon?"

And the site, published an article that described the "Paperbag Crew" – a group of fans that wore bags over their heads at State games – LAST SEASON.

Unless State can manage three straight wins to close out the season, Amato will have two losing seasons in the last three to post on his resume. All the talk about national championships and "life in the fast lane" seems so very distant and hollow now.

That isn't to say that it can't be turned around. Just look north a few states away. Ralph Friedgen appeared to have lost his momentum at Maryland; now the Terps are in contention for an ACC title.

But there are some things working against Amato. For one, his team is losing in a year that most experts consider a "down" year for the ACC. (And while State doesn't have Duke on the schedule, the Pack also hasn't had to face Miami or Virginia Tech this year.) It's also arguable that State – the largest school in the state -- is not even the third best program in the state. Wake Forest is clearly the best team; after that, you could toss State, North Carolina and East Carolina in the air to pick No. 2 and No. 3 (though the Pirates appear to have the inside track to No. 2).

And then there's the situation in Chapel Hill. If the early reports are true and Butch Davis is the next coach at Carolina, then Amato will truly have to right the ship – and in a hurry.

"We have no room for error," Amato told the media following State's 31-23 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

He could have just as easily said "I have no room for error."

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