NC State Zeroes In

NC State appears to be ready to move on Navy’s Paul Johnson as their top candidate in the search to replace Chuck Amato. According to, Johnson has been in contact with Wolfpack AD Lee Fowler and the process appears to be moving forward. Johnson had previously said he would only talk to NC State if they waited until after the Army-Navy game and if he was one of the two top choices. Both those conditions have been satisfied so at this point it is a matter waiting to see what shakes out. LSU offensive coordinator has practically thown himself on the wedding altar in hopes someone will slip a ring on his finger. According to David Glenn Fisher is still in the mix which means he could very well try and get access to the digital marquee outside the RBC Center to plug his candidancy further. The Sports Idiot has a nice rundown of the candidates at this point and State Fans Nation offers some opinions on the handling of the search while taking Lee Fowler out to the virtual woodshed.

Of course Tar Heel Fan was a huge Paul Johnson advocate and I offered up plenty of compelling reasons why UNC should hire him. Those reasons can be easily applied to the NC State situation as well. And as much as it looks like that Butch Davis is going to do UNC football a lot of good, I cannot help but be a little bothered by all of this. As a reader told me in an email today, I laid out a scenario that included Johnson going to NC State if UNC chose to go with Davis:

However, speaking for myself, I will always regard Davis as someone with one eye on the classifieds for at least the first five seasons. One fear I have is that in 10 years we will be enduring a horrible football season under another coach and the question will be asked: How did UNC end up with this guy? The answer will be that the powers at UNC fired John Bunting and decided to go after the big name in Butch Davis instead of playing for someone like Paul Johnson who probably would have stayed longer and brought winning football anyway. Davis brought a lot of success but left after his fourth season for another job and UNC proceeded to botch the hiring of the next guy who has since run UNC into the ground. What will smart even more is that Paul Johnson will be in his ninth season at NC State being hired after the 2007 season to replace Chuck Amato and not only will UNC be back in the same place it is now but once a year they play the Wolfpack and see what they could have had in Johnson.

So, if it is Butch Davis, I will enjoy the success of UNC football, even if it is for a little while. However, it will be very difficult to not expect Davis to leave and the program to dive again. As a UNC fan that has generally been my experience and therefore my expectation.

This is one prediction I hope I miss by a mile. In all honesty I would love to see Johnson at NC State going head-to-head with Davis at UNC for the next decade. I think it would bring intensity and excitement back into Triangle football. It could also make the annual renewal of hostilities about bragging rights and ACC title hopes.

I cannot think of anyone at either school who would not be interested in that kind of rivalry.


4 Responses to NC State Zeroes In

  1. Kevin says:

    I was a fan of Johnson coming to UNC as well but in this media hype crazed culture we are in it is all about headlines and national recognition. Butch Davis is a big story and no doubt UNC will get lots of press and free publicity just on the name. The price may be a high maintainence coach who is likely to bolt for greener pastures if things go well.

    Johnson, on the other hand will not cause that much of a flutter in terms of hype but will be far more likely to hang on if he has success. Let us not forget that just as he would have been at UNC, Johnson is a second tier choice at NCSU. They also wanted a big headline grabbing name. That is the nature of college football in 2006.

    I too will enjoy the quick excitement Davis will bring but I am also concerned about the long term.

  2. thesportsidiot says:

    I don’t know that I would call Johnson a second tier choice, but I get what you are saying. If I were to tier the possible choices for State, anyone not named Cowher would automatically be out of the first tier. That second tier for State, however, has some excellent coaches in it and I expect the powers that be to find the best fit. Paul Johnson would be one of the coaches that I would consider being a great choice for the job, but he may not be the best “fit”. If I were involved with this search, I would be finding out as much as I can about the Houston Nutt angle.

  3. Kevin says:

    Johnson would be an excellent choice and I would have been happy to have him at UNC but they wanted a bigger name(aka Butch Davis) to give the program a big publicity boost. That is what I meant in terms of tier, not the quality of the coach.

    I think the same is true for NCSU in terms of Cowher. He would have given the program instant national attention. There are plenty of top quality coaches out there and I agree Houston Nutt would be a good catch for the Pack.

  4. Chris says:

    The Butch Davis choice gives instant ticket sales and probably, more than any other pick, retains the apparently excellent recruiting class for next year. He’s Carolina’s best shot at some decent football relatively quickly. If he doesn’t stay 10 years that’s not that big of a deal…..let’s just stop hiring assistant coaches that have no proven head coaching record. I still remain surprised that George O’Leary’s name hasn’t popped up much in the recruitment of new head coaches.

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