On Wednesday night NC State head coach Mark Gottfried told the media that despite the road loss to Boston College, he felt that his team made progress in some aspects. A reporter reminded him that most of the fan base would likely not see this loss as progress and Gottfried responded rather candidly.
“Don’t care,” Gottfried said. “Don’t care if you do. Hell, I don’t really give a shit if anybody does. We got better tonight.”
Of course, some fans had a problem with that answer. They complained to Debbie Yow, which got this email response:
“Several of you as loyal fans have written regarding the loss to BC and since each email was similar in nature, I decided to respond to you as a group.
Because you are not able to impact game outcomes directly, I understand your frustration, because you depend on others to ‘right the ship.
I also have seen the video of the post-game comments made to the (The News and Observer) and want to assure you that what our fans think does matter. A lot.
At this juncture, seeing measurable/objective improvement in play is a focus and continuing to provide day to day support for our team members and coaches.
As 18- to 22-year-old athletes, this cannot be easy for them. And I understand you are disappointed regarding early season ACC game outcomes. Playing in the friendly confines of PNC for the next week should help.
Thank you for your longtime loyalty to Wolfpack Men’s Basketball. That is never taken for granted.”
Last night Gottfried responded on his radio show to his comments, offering an apology to the NC State faithful.
“It’s important for me to say to Wolfpack Nation, all of our fans, that I want to apologize. I was in the heat of the moment, I used some language I shouldn’t use and that was out of my character. I want to apologize. No one is responsible, other than me. I’m not one of those guys that wants to blame other people. That was inappropriate.
“I called Debbie Yow this afternoon and told her the same thing. I apologized to her. I also apologized to Randy Woodson. I represent NC State University and this is a magnificent place. We have magnificent fans, and I love our fans. Wolfpack Nation is incredible.
“In the heat of the moment I made a mistake. For that, I need to apologize. I love our fans and I love our team too.
“Last night after the game I was hurting for our players. I thought our players played extremely hard. They wanted to win, and we had some things hurt us throughout the game. I thought some turnovers hurt us, we missed some shots, and had some empty possessions. Those types of things in a game.
“Our players want to win. I love my team. I love these guys. I think we’ll become a really good basketball team. Some people say I’m the eternal optimist, and my response to that is I’d rather be that than the alternative.
“I think we’re going to get better. I was disappointed last night that we didn’t win and disappointed in the outcome. We didn’t have anything to show for that, and I said that after the game.
“We’re going to move on and get ourselves ready to play this weekend.”
While the gesture was nice and appeasing to the complainers, it’s ridiculous that Gottfried was basically forced to offer an apology for giving his true, unfiltered opinion.
Look, I didn’t go to school to become a journalist. I never studied the history of media. I’m a glorified blogger who shouldered his way into press corps so I could get more insight into NC State basketball. I didn’t understand why all these reporters were huddled around players and coaches, yet we never really got any in-depth knowledge. Just generic quotes and regurgitated talking points. When I got there, you know what I found? I found that it’s not the questions that the reporters were asking, it was the answers the coaches and players were giving them. They were canned, boring, and could be put on repeat game after game. They didn’t want to speak their mind. They didn’t want to give their real feelings. Because they didn’t trust the press or the readers to see them as who they were. In my opinion, this is a fear culture that sucks for everyone.
What I mean is, we beg for juicy quotes, deep-insight, real candor, but what when we get it we blow it out of proportion. We examine that opinion, find it’s flaws, and stir up a narrative that creates division. Those that are for it and that are offended by it.
If they do end up saying something real, they end up having to back away from an honest statement they made. They’ll offer some halfway apology and say how wrong they are and how it was a mistake. But was it a mistake? Speaking you mind, telling the truth? That is a mistake? Well, whatever it is, you know what it’s going to get you? It’s going to get you empty generic quotes. It’s going to allow you less and less insight into the real thoughts of the coaches and the players, for fear that if they tell the truth they’ll be vilified or scrutinized.
Maybe it’s the sign of the times. Maybe it’s how it has to be. But I own a site with message boards and I’m constantly trying to keep a pulse on what the NC State fanbase thinks, says and is interested in. You know what I find?
I find a fanbase that constantly complains about today’s “PC culture” and how it’s leading to softer players and softer coaches. I see a fanbase that wants a hard-nosed, no-nonsense blue collar coach who cares about discipline, winning, and not much else. One who says what he thinks, and doesn’t care what you, me, the media, or anyone else has to say about it.
Isn’t that what most of you are asking for? Then why are you complaining about Mark Gottfried using some colorful language, or saying that he believes something as a coach and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it.
Look, no one is telling you that you have to like Gottfried. No one is telling you that you should believe him when he says his team is progressing. This is not about sticking up for the notion that the BC game was progress. What this is, is an opinion piece that is arguing that if we want to brand ourselves as the blue-collar hard-working, no-nonsense rivals to the white-collar, wine and cheese crowd down the street then we might want to stop writing to our athletic director about how much we were offended by Gottfried speaking his mind and sticking up for his players.