Three former NC State players were among the 102 Modern-Era Nominees for the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class released Friday.
The former NC State linebacker was the head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 15 seasons, compiling a record 161-91-1. His 161 career wins ranks 19th in NFL history. Cowher led the Steelers to a 149-90 record in regular season play, and his 149 wins are the 10th most regular season wins by a head coach in NFL history.
His career winning percentage of 61.9% ranks 18th all-time.
Cowher is one of only 23 coaches in NFL history to lead teams to more than one Super Bowl. In 1996, Cowher, at the age of 38, became the youngest coach to lead their team to a Super Bowl. The Steelers lost to the Cowboys 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX. Ten years later, Cowher once again made it to the Super Bowl, and this time he walked away with the Lombardi trophy. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL. The fact that the Steelers were the #6 seed makes Cowher’s Super Bowl victory that much more impressive. Only two #6 seeds in this history of the NFL have gone on to win the Super Bowl.
In 15 seasons as the head coach of the Steelers, Cowher led them to 8 divisional titles (1 of only 6 coaches to claim 7+ divisional titles) and 10 playoff appearances.
This marks the 5th time that Cowher has been nominated, but he has yet to be a semi-finalist. Cowher’s detractor’s point to his 2-4 record in the AFC Championship game, and point to what could have been. I understand that, but he is one of only 23 coaches in NFL history to win 2 Conference Championships. I expect Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin to make it in before Cowher. They both have have more career wins, and won 2 Super Bowls (Coughlin won’t be eligible until 2020). I could also see Mike Holmgren going in before Cowher. He also won one Super bowl, but went to 3, and has more career wins. It’s worth noting that Cowher’s career winning percentage is better than all three of the above mentioned coaches. It might not be this year, but I believe Cowher deserves to be in the Hall of Fame one day.
Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette
Former NC State Point Guard Justin Gainey (1997-00) has been hired by Marquette as their Associate Head Coach, serving along head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke point guard.
“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said. “Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.” (Link)
This isn’t Gainey’s first stint at Marquette, serving as Director of Operations from 2014-17. The past two seasons, Gainey served as an Assistant Coach with Sean Miller at Arizona. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Coach at Santa Clara for one season with his former head coach at NC State, Herb Sendek.
Gainey’s coaching career began at NC State, where he served as Director of Operations for three seasons (2006-09), and then he went on to work at Appalachian State and Elon as well.
Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19
Former NC State Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith Jr. never forgets where he came from. The New York Knicks Point Guard is always showing love for Fayetteville, North Carolina.
According to Ian Begley, DSJ is providing food vouchers for 575 first responders at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and 32 computers for local students in Fayetteville.
Here’s a quote from Dennis Smith Jr. on his donation: “Fayetteville and basketball have given so much to me…. I wanted to show support for the real heroes during these tragic times – the first responders.” Smith Jr.’s full quote, via the Knicks, is here: https://t.co/EtvF1LhVKh pic.twitter.com/G1RpvhGTjF
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 27, 2020
Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization
Former NC State Catcher Andrew Knizner enters the 2020 season ranked as the #6 prospect in the Cardinals organization.
Knizner was drafted in the 7th round by St. Louis in 2016, and was called up for the 1st time to the Big Leagues last year, when Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list.
The jump wasn’t an easy one, with Knizner hitting .226 in 18 games.
Despite some time in the Majors at the end of last season, Knizner will begin 2020 in Triple-A Memphis, where he has already played 83 games, hitting .283.
Cardinals legend Molina is back to full strength, and backup Matt Wieters was signed to a 1-year deal, meaning it’s not quite time for Knizner.
Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization
Former NC State All-American Shortstop Will Wilson will is entering the 2020 baseball season ranked as the #10 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.
After being drafted by the Angels with the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft last year, Wilson hit .275 in 46 games of Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz.
In December, the Angels traded him to the Giants.
In his final season at NC State, Wilson led the team with a .335 batting average, 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .661 slugging percentage, and finished eighth all-time in career doubles (57) and homers (39), and ninth in total bases (409).
Wilson is the 3rd highest draft pick in NC State history, and only the 2nd batter to be drafted in the 1st round, alongside another shortstop who is currently in the league as well: Trea Turner.
According to MLB.com, Wilson is expected to make it to the Majors in 2022.