Yesterday ESPN Radio host Paul Finebaum did a stupendous job of pissing off NC State fans, when he belittled South Carolina’s victory over the Wolfpack, because it was ultimately a victory over “nobody.”
“Um, no. Listen, I love all the excitement for Will Muschamp and South Carolina,” Finebaum said. “It was a big win. But outside the state(s) of North Carolina and South Carolina, try convincing anyone in America in the other 48 that beating NC State matters. NC State is a nobody, OK? One guy decided to declare NC State a final four team. As a result, oh well, NC State got beat. Oh, wow. NC State is NC State. It’s a basketball school…not even a good basketball school.” (Link)
For whatever reason, Finebaum felt the need to turn the NC State Football program into his own personal punching bag in a response to a question about the legitimacy of South Carolina’s football team.
His words sting the spirit of a lifelong NC State fan, but do they sting because they are inflammatory, or because they are true?
Many fanbase’s suffer from thinking their football team is more relevant nationally than they are in acutality, and NC State’s rabid fan base is guilty as charged. The Wolfpack fans are some of the most passionate in the nation, but Finebaum isn’t completely incorrect here. Outside of the Carolina’s, sports fans in most of the other states don’t have the NC State football program anywhere on their radar, and never have for that matter.
Is NC State a ‘nobody’? I think the word ‘nobody’ is a rather insulting title to use for a team that is historically a middle-of-the-road team. That title is best suited for teams that are regularly at the bottom of the barrel of their respective conferences, and that’s not the case for NC State.
But Finebaum is correct that NC State hasn’t proven themselves to be a ‘somebody’ in the world of college football.
Sure, they have won 7 ACC Championships, which ranks third amongst current ACC members behind Clemson and Florida State respectively, but their last one was back in 1979.
Sure, they have had some good players come through their program like Roman Gabriel, Philip Rivers, Ted Brown, Torry Holt, Mario Williams and Russell Wilson. The Wolfpack have had 7 players win the ACC Player of the Year award, which ranks 3rd in conference history, with the most recent being Philip Rivers in 2003. With that being said, NC State has never had a player win the prestigious Heisman Trophy, and they have only had 7 consensus All-Americans, which ranks 56th amongst FBS schools. The Wolfpack have produced 160 NFL Draft picks, which also ranks 56th overall.
NC State’s 30 bowl games ranks 31st, and their bowl game winning percentage of 55% ranks 24th, but their 584 career wins ranks 60th, which ranks 10th in the ACC.
You don’t have to win national championships to be ‘somebody’ in the college football world, but you need to be a staple every year in the Top 25 rankings. The Wolfpack have spent 149 weeks in the AP poll, which ranks 55th, and have only finished 12 seasons ranked in the AP Poll which began back in 1934, with the last one being in 2002 when the Wolfpack finished 12th (the best final season ranking of any NC State team).
What does all this mean? It means, in my opinion, that the NC State football program isn’t a ‘nobody’, but they haven’t proven themselves to be ‘somebody.’
But that can change.
If I were the NC State coaching staff, I would take this exact quote from Paul Finebaum, and post it over the door the players have to walk through to leave the locker room, and I’d make them smack it as they exit. I would make it a permanent visual fixture for players to stare at.
NC State football, go become ‘somebody.’ No college football program is damned to mediocrity. I don’t buy that narrative and never will. You control your narrative boys. Go create a new narrative, with chapters and characters of consistency and prestige, that the nation can’t help but notice.