Blog Entry

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

Posted on: September 26, 2009 5:50 pm

I knew my Herb Sendek column would bring the wrath of N.C. State readers.

I was prepared for it.

I'm OK with it.

But I honestly believe the Wolfpack fans who wanted Sendek gone -- and, yes, I know it wasn't all Wolfpack fans -- and still stand behind the move are simply too close to the situation to properly understand what happened. They don't see it like I see it -- or like the rest of the country sees it -- because they're too emotionally attached to enjoy perspective.

Again, Sendek was pushed out after FIVE straight NCAA tournaments.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Five straight!

Do you know how many ACC schools have strung five straight NCAA tournaments within the past 15 seasons?

(I do.)

The answer is five.
  • Duke under Mike Krzyzewski.
  • North Carolina under Roy Williams.
  • Maryland under Gary Williams.
  • Wake Forest under Skip Prosser.
  • N.C. State under Herb Sendek.
Of those five coaches, only one has been pushed out.

His name is Herb Sendek.

But, Gary, Sendek never made an Elite Eight!

That's the other sentence I've read 78 times in the past 24 hours.

And, obviously, that's a fair point.

(Turning sarcasm on)

Because failing to make the Elite Eight just isn't acceptable at what is, at best, the No. 3 basketball school in North Carolina -- a basketball school so great it was turned down by roughly 47 coaches before settling on Sidney Lowe. That's the type of place where Elite Eights should be the standard. I mean, it's not like N.C. State is as pitiful as Florida, which kept Billy Donovan despite him never so much as making a Sweet 16 in the five-year period from 2001 to 2005.

Can you believe that?

Donovan made the NCAA tournament in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

He lost in the first round or second round each time.

Yeah, he won national titles in 2006 and 2007.

But still.

Those five years of early exits from the NCAA tournament were embarrassing.

(Turning sarcasm off)

Seriously, it's just insane.

It's one thing for UCLA to run off Steve Lavin or for Kentucky to run off Tubby Smith because simply making the NCAA tournament at UCLA and Kentucky might not be good enough. If moving Lavin leads to Ben Howland at UCLA, it can be rationalized. If moving Smith leads to John Calipari at Kentucky, then perhaps that can be justified, too.

But N.C. State -- and this is the part N.C. State fans refuse to grasp -- isn't UCLA or Kentucky.

It was never getting a Howland or a Calipari.

Or a Rick Barnes.

Or a Jay Wright.

Or any coach of that caliber.

That's why the situations don't compare, because N.C. State moved a guy who made five consecutive NCAA tournaments for an alumnus who had never coached college basketball. And though I actually like Sidney Lowe and recognize that recruiting is going relatively well, the truth is that he's currently predicted to finish 10th-or-worse in the ACC for the fourth straight season.

That's a fact that can't be spun positive.

And neither can the treatment Sendek received at N.C. State.

Since: Sep 29, 2009
Posted on: November 26, 2009 11:17 pm

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

Give it up, O. Gary's let too much product seep through his scalp into his dome to make any sense.

Thank you for outlining all of the numbers for Parrish, though, assuming he gives enough of a hoot to read them.

The comparison to Donovan was especially hilarious and thoroughly outed as lazy journalism at its finest. He cherry picked some results, didn't bother to check to see how strong his argument was before making it, then got slammed with the numbers. Nice work.

Gary, stick to writing what you know, which is apparently which hair salons give the best tint jobs.

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 3:17 pm

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

Here are the coaches who have spent 13 consecutive seasons at a major conference school(not counting an NBA stint in between college jobs with Pitino and Montgomery):

Coach K
R. Williams
G. Williams
J. Boeheim
J. Calhoun
R. Pitino
B. Donovan
Tubby Smith
Tom Izzo
Rick Barnes
Mike Montgomery
Herb Sendek

What does Sendek have in common with these coaches?
Three coaches on the list don't have a national title - Sendek, Barnes and Montgomery.

Barnes - 2 S16s, 2 Elite 8s, 1 Final Four, 3 regular season conference titles
Montgomery - 1 Pac 10 title, 3 Pac 10 regular season titles, 1 Final Four, 1 Elite 8, 1 Sweet 16
Sendek - 0 titles, 0 regular season titles, 0 Elite 8s, 0 Final Fours, 1 Sweet 16

Where all the other Herb Sendek's out there that have coached 13 straight years at the major conference level that have similar or worse results than Sendek that prove that clearly NC State should have held on to Sendek?

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 2:37 pm

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

This is almost too easy:

In the five years mentioned by the author that Sendek made the NCAAs(if I have the years off by one either way, the point still stands):

Sendek:  0 ACC Tournament titles, 0 Regular season titles, 1 Sweet 16
Gary Williams:  1 ACC regular season title, 1 ACC tournament title, 1 Sweet 16 a Final Four, and a national title
Roy Williams:  1 Final Four, 1 National runner up, 1 National title, 3 regular season conference titles
Coach K:  1 national title, 3 sweet 16s, 1 Final Four, 2 regular season titles, at least 3 ACC tournament titles
Prosser:  1 ACC regular season title, 4 NCAA appearances, led Wake to a #1 ranking for the 1st time in the programs history.

I could go deeper on the Prosser comparison showing how many weeks Wake was ranked in the top 25 and top 10 compared to Sendek, but it just isn't worth the time.  You could do the same with all of the other coaches this author mentions as well.  These four coaches had their programs competing at the top level of college basketball.  Sendek, never in his career, has he had a team that legimately was one of the best in the country.  His best team set an ACC record for blowing the largest lead in tournament history(23 points to Maryland in the semis) and an 11 point lead against Vanderbilt in the final four minutes in the round of 32.

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 2:16 pm

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

I should have proofread my last post....sorry.

Also, the assertion that we should have kept Sendek because we aren't UCLA or UK (or whatever top programs were actually mentioned) and because we couldn't hire a big name coach is also ridiculous taken in the context of the points made about Sendek.

The author obviously thinks Herb Sendek is a very good, maybe great coach.  He brings up another coach hired from a mid-major by a program in the exact same year NC State hired Herb Sendek.  So assuming it is true that no big name coach can be hired at NC State, then does that mean that NC State can't hire a great coach?

Well, in 1996 we hired Herb Sendek who is obviously highly respected by this author.  It made sense...a former assistant of the top head coach in the country at the time (Pitino) who has some head coaching success at a mid-major.  There was another coach at the time who fit the same description - Billy Donovan.  So we got the worst of the two possible coaches and still ended up with someone who this author thinks very highly of.  If we had correctly targeted and landed Billy Donovan, then we would have one of the top coaches in the country right now (legitimately one of the top coaches because of real accomplishments, not a top coach because of one selective statistic like 5 straight NCAAs).  We were fishing in the right waters last time around and we still ended up doing pretty well by this author's standards with Sendek.

So why on Earth should NC State assume that we can't hire at least another Herb Sendek considering he was the head coach at Miami, Oh with the goal of hopefully hiring the next Billy Donovan instead?

All great coaches are at one time in their careers hireable by NC State (and other programs like NC State).  Where NC State screws thing up is hiring the wrong coaches for the wrong reasons (Sidney Lowe) and sitting back holding on to coaches(Herb Sendek and now Sidney Lowe) while other programs hire guys that would win at NC State (Sean Miller who was just hired by Arizona).

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 2:02 pm

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

-Herb Sendek spent a total of 29 weeks spent in the AP top 25 with 14 of those coming in his 10th season. 

-Herb Sendek had 1 AP top 25 finish in 10 season at NC State (year 8)

-Billly Donovan had two SEC regular season titles(2000,2001), a sweet 16 in his 3rd year, and national title game appearance in year 4.

-Billy Donovan spent almost every week in the top 25 in years 4,5,6,7, 8, and 10.

-Billy Donovan had top 25 finishes in year 3, 4, 5,6,7,9, and 10.

-Billy Donovan won an SEC title in year 2005, the year that the author presents that NC State fans would have wanted him fired.

The Billy Donovan comparison might be the most ridiculous assertion I have ever seen from a sportwriter.  Of course, it would only rival comparisons to made by the same author to Roy Williams, Coach K, and Gary Williams. 


Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 12:46 pm

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

You talk about Wolfpack fans being too emotionally attached to see your perspective.  My response, is you're not close enough to see our perspective.  I'm getting tired of writers thinking they know what is best for little ol' NC State.  I think the NC State community knows a little better what we should expect of our coaches than some outsider that obviously knows little about our school.

You mention Florida and Donovan.  What you fail to mention is that he had a sweet 16 and Final 4 appearance before that 5 year stretch.  Had Sendek had that type of success, he would still be the coach here, even with a 5 year stretch of no elite 8 appearances.  You also fail to mention that the basketball history of Florida is not even close to the same level as NC State.  Prior to Donovan being hired, NC State had as many Final 4 appearances as Florida had (non-vacated) tournament appearances.  Even with Donovan's success, NC State has more tournament appearances.

Maybe we do live in the past, but that past is filled with very good basketball.  There is no reason NC State should not try to get back to that level.  We haven't won an ACC title since 1987, but still rank third in the ACC in total ACC basketball championships.  Prior to 1987, we had never gone more than 9 years without an ACC championship.  Maybe you can see why we were getting a little antsy and looking for results 20 years later.

So get off your high horse and stop criticizing a fanbase for something you obviously are too young or too ignorant to understand.

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 11:57 am

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

Mr. O,

He's an intrepid journalist. How dare you call him out for cherry pickin' Donovan's stats? It doesn't matter that he made the Sweet 16 in year three or the NCAA Championship game in year 4. Or even, that he routinely had 20+ wins during all that time. Because that would totally invalidate his assertion. You should be ashamed...


Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2009 11:29 am

Five hundred more words on Herb Sendek

Did you leave out any information in the Donovan/Sendek comparison and are you sure you want to compare Sendek to a future Hall of Fame coach like Donovan?

Have you really looked at the records of the two coaches to be certain that Donovan = Sendek, so therefore NC State fans are crazy?

I will put together some information on that specific comparison and any other that you offer (Did you mention Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams too?). 

In the mean time, find a coach that is currently employed at a major conference school that has fewer accomplishments than Herb Sendek.  I am being serious about that challenge too. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or