S ports in Paradise By Dale Jones
You think coaching in the SEC is easy?
No, I am not talking football, I mean hoops. Going up against Kentucky and Florida on a regular basis is no easy task, but what if your future trips to post season play depend on how well you do against Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams?
Well, that is what Mark Gottfried will be up against as he takes the reigns at North Carolina State.
Gottfried has caught grief on more than one occasion by members of the media, commenting that he is not a very good basketball coach. (Keep in mind that many of those media members are short, white guys who have never dribbled a basketball in their life.)
I might agree that his last couple of seasons with the Tide were nothing to write home about, but Gottfried’s history as both a coach and a player are notable.
He may be exactly what the Wolfpack basketball nation needs.
Many were hoping that VCU’s Shaka Smart would take the job.
No disrespect to Coach Smart, but if you were to spin the clock back to mid February, and I was to ask you who Shaka Smart was, most of you would probably not have a clue.
If Shaka Smart, a guy who barely got his team into the NCAA tournament, would have taken the NC State job, some of these very same clueless media members would have been ranting and raving about what a great hire they made, yet those same people are discrediting Gottfried, a guy with multiple NCAA appearances.
While at Alabama, Gottfried successfully recruited and coached some big time basketball players, he racked up a 210-131 record, went dancing five consecutive times from 2002-2006, and was the 2002 SEC coach of the year.
Before his days in Tuscaloosa, Gottfried coached Murray State, leaving with a 69-23 record. You also cannot forget that he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at UCLA, where he was part of the 1995 NCAA championship team.
Although NC State does have two National Championship banners hanging from the rafters, and have enjoyed numerous trips to the tournament, as of late, they haven’t had much success. You would have to go back to 2006 to find them in them in the brackets.
Gottfried is a good coach. He is a good recruiter, and after a couple of seasons away from the game, there is no doubt that his fire to get back on the sidelines is at an all-time high.
The losers in this scenario are the Gulf Shores Dolphins who have enjoyed two years of Gottfrieds dressed out in Dolphin football, basketball and volleyball uniforms. Gottfried’s kids have made a positive impact on the Baldwin County program and no doubt, they will be missed.
As for NC State, I think he can do it. I look for them to return to tournament play in the very near future. I refuse to be one of the media naysayers.
Good luck, coach!
Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org.