The latest news in Debbie Yow’s crusade against athletic mediocrity is obviously the dismissal of our 8-season men’s wrestling coach Carter Jordan. From a recent interview he had with The Technician, it appears that Coach Jordan disagrees vehemently with the athletic department’s decision, or at least with their press release.
First, a brief history lesson. Coach Jordan’s predecessor is Bob Guzzo who had served as head coach for 30 years, dating back to the athletic administration of Willis Casey and coaching in the same era as Lou Holtz, Norm Sloan, Jimmy Valvano, and the beginning of Kay Yow’s women’s basketball program. In 30 years, he went 356-183-7 overall and 115-50 in the ACC. That’s a guy who wins 65% of the dual matches he attends and 70% of his conference matches. He also lead NC State to 86 individual conference championships, 13 ACC titles, and 3 ACC championships in his last 4 seasons. Overall that adds up to almost 3 individual conference championships each year of his career and an ACC title almost every two years.
So looking at how Coach Guzzo did, how did Coach Jordan build on that success, especially the momentum of winning 3 ACC titles in the last 4 years? He finished his 8-year career at 66-77-3 (45%), had 13 individual conference championships (just under 2 per year on average) and won 1 ACC title out of a possible 8. Unlike Coach Guzzo who took an unknown program and put it on the map, Coach Jordan took a pre-built winner and managed to sink to mediocrity. Even giving him 8 years to ‘catch his second wind’, his only ACC title was in 2007, less than halfway through his tenure.
HOW DID WE GET JORDAN?
Carter Jordan served as a long-time assistant coach under Guzzo. When Guzzo announced his retirement, inept athletic direct Lee Fowler (the same brain child that gave us Sidney Lowe after a botched coaching search) rightly appointed Jordan as interim head coach, but then followed that decision up by naming him permanent head coach. He had been an assistant for Guzzo since 1997 and wrestled for Guzzo prior to that in 1983-1986.
So that makes him an ‘alumni’ of our athletic program…
Putting the slights of Lee Fowler aside (and trust me, they are legion), Jordan was the lazy hire. He was already at State, we already had a contract for him, and he already knew everyone. All Fowler had to do was sit back and use the flawed logic of “you already know and love this guy… plus, he’s one of our own!“ This logic has bit NC State in the ass time and time again. NC State’s wrestling program, something to be envied by most coaches of any varsity sport, was taken from a regular top-20 program to a program that wouldn’t sniff an ACC title in 5 years.
Being an alumni/former player does make the program want to cut you more slack even when they normally might not. We all recall Sidney Lowe, who was given 5 years to do little more than “break even” with his predecessor by making the NCAA tournament. Even though the program was tooled to at least make the NCAA bubble, he could barely make the NIT tournament 2 out of his 5 seasons, both seasons being in the lower-half of the NIT tournament seeding. Another great example is Chuck Amato. In 2004, Chuck Amato infamously promised the Wolfpack nation “no more losing seasons”. After finishing the next season 6-5 (7-5 after a win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl), he had a 7-game losing streak to end his career. A lot of people had doubts about Amato prior to 2006, but because he is an alumni, you “have to give him the benefit of the doubt”.
A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT
The examples of Chuck Amato and Sidney Lowe can’t really be blamed on them personally as much as it is to be blamed on the athletic department for not being able to think with their minds rather than their hearts (or in Lee Fowler’s case, his ass). Everyone else was gifting them some entitlement rather than them assuming it. Carter Jordan, however, gives us a great example of entitlement in it’s worst form. From The Technician article on his dismissal, he states…
Jordan refused to resign.
“I told them to go to hell,” Jordan said. “There was no way I was going to resign.’”
Telling your boss to go to Hell is one of those things you do in your day dreams, one of those things you do to your manager of a shitting part-time job when you “get a real job”, and something you see on sitcoms. Telling your boss to go to Hell is not what you do if you are challenging a rational decision to let you go based on your lack of results. There is, of course, the concept that maybe he thought his results were acceptable…
When asked if he had any feeling that he was going to be asked to abandon his position, his answer was clear.
“No, not at all,” Jordan said. “After taking five guys to nationals and having an All-American, absolutely not.”
Regardless, when you compare where the program was prior to Jordan’s tenure and after his tenure, it’s pretty easy to see that things did not improve. That is what is missing when you hire someone who is family rather than someone who comes in from day one with a mission to accomplish: they lose objectivity. Jordan’s downfall may not have been in his attitude, though it sounds like he had a huge problem with his; rather his problem was that he came in to coach at his Alma Mater and to take over a program that he had seen grow. When you are a former-player, it takes a special amount of discipline to accepting a coaching job but maintain that heartless “coach on a mission” attitude that you need to succeed.
A lot of the problems with hiring former athletes probably has less to do with the fact that they are “part of the family” and more to do with inept leadership within the athletics department. What Debbie Yow is bringing to NC State is the removal of any sense of entitlement, whether it is projected onto a coach, such as Amato or Lowe, or whether it’s assumed by a coach, such as Jordan. Running an athletic department based on the ‘good ole boys’ system is what we’ve had for the past 10 years or more. It didn’t work. I’m pleased to see that with new leadership and new focus by the university administration, we are finally getting back on track to a nationally relevant athletic program that holds itself to high standards.