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Vonwolf: Ready to Fight Folks Barely Putting Leary as Top-5 ACC QB

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The ACC just gonna keep ACCing, huh? There has been lots of talk about State football being disrespected. While some of the narratives are overblown, I’ve been steadfast in saying that Leary is getting no love.

And it just got worse.

Tuesday, All-ACC selections were made. Leary wasn’t on first team (understandable)…but he wasn’t on second or third-team ACC. In fact, he barely made the top-5 for ACC QB’s.

1. Kenny Pickett (181)
2. Sam Hartman (80)
3. Brennan Armstrong (68)
4. Sam Howell (19)
5. Devin Leary (18)

Yes, you’re reading that right. Armstrong with four-times the votes. WTF are we looking at folks?!

Howell and Armstrong combined for a 1-7 record over the last month of the season. Furthermore, their team’s defensive rankings were 87th (UNC) and 121st (UVA), forcing plenty of throws for points.

 

Leary is the Man

All that to say, Leary deserves better. State had multiple guys up and down All-ACC, but Leary has been an after thought all damn year.

I’ll save you the time on stats;

  • 2nd in ACC for TD’s, while also being 2nd lowest in ACC for INTs
  • 3rd in passing completion %
  • 3rd in efficiency
  • 4th in yards
  • Team is ranked and on the verge of double-figure wins
  • Broke school record for TDs in a season

Furthermore, two of his five interceptions were end of half Hail Mary’s (Just think about that…if we just didn’t go for those throws, Leary would have a ratio of 12-1…Good Lawd). For comparison, Armstrong with a 3-1 TD-INT.

 

Excuses

  • “Well it’s because NC State doesn’t have a strong strength of schedule!” – Nope, State’s schedule ranks 29th hardest in the country and hardest between those top-5 ACC QBs
  • “Well, it’s because he’s putting up numbers against sub-division schools!” – Nope, Leary’s had five, four touchdown games, all against ACC opponents.
  • “Well, State has a WR core that bail him out constantly!” – Nope, and you wanna know something crazy. Look directly at this spread…eight Wolfpack players have multiple touchdown catches, compared to let’s say UNC with three. haha
  • “Well when you don’t have a defense, you have to chuck the ball!” – Nope and you could argue we’re so conservative on offense because we know 28 points will get it done with this defense we have. I don’t want to imagine it, but let’s say we had any number of defenses that just love to give up an average of 34 points a game (looking at you, you bum a*s UNC crew)…can you imagine the numbers Leary would have?!
  • “Well you have a backfield duo of Knight and Person that do all the work!” – Nope and if you’ve watched any of the last two months of games, it’s been more than sad. Leary has single-handedly gotten State wins.  

Part of the All-ACC is stats…in fact like 99% of it is. Because if you would have looked for one second at the pocket presence, the calming effect he has and the team’s offensive MVP by a mile, Leary would be All-ACC.

Just comeback next year and seek and destroy, okay Leary?

Passionate State fan that just wants to win...something...like anything...

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Wolferetti: Chancellor Woodson was the highest paid in 2021, making some happy and some mad

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A couple of days ago I read a pretty interesting piece by NC State’s on-campus newspaper ‘The Technician.’ I’m not really sure what the public response is going to be on this, but it’s been on my mind and I figured it would be a good conversation starter.

Chancellor Randy Woodson’s salary was around $2.3 million in 2021 according to the Technician. He also brought in a $1.7 million bonus, making him the highest paid president of a public university.

Now, according to the piece, “Woodson donated $1.5 million back to the school in the form of a scholarship fund for dependents of University employees, $100k to extraordinary student opportunity fund and addition donations to other univerisy programs, including the ‘student emergency fund.”

The rest of the piece dives into the donations and how needed they were, and then talks about where his bonus money came from (which was 100% from The Board of Trustees raising money. Meaning no state funds were used.) So, this is all awesome right? A positive piece of news about NC State’s leader?

Well, I guess not everyone read it that way.

The reason I’m taking a deeper look at this article is because I’ve now been sent it twice by friends of mine. Both of whom seemed to have a negative response to Woodson getting paid so much. However, after reading it, I was wondering why they both were stuck on that point, instead of focusing on the $1.5 million he donated back to the school. I thought the piece really focused on that and that the likely response would be “Man, what a good person Chancellor Woodson is.”

I guess after reading it from their perspective, I’d want to know a little more about what makes NC State so unique that it warrants paying the nation’s highest price to it’s president. Are there some extraordinary circumstances that other universities don’t face? Size-wise, NC State is surely nowhere near the largest public university, so that can’t be what it’s about. These points aren’t discussed, but I believe would be beneficial to keep PR on the positive side as news like this starts to be reported.

I also wondered about the bonus. If Woodson is just going to donate it, then why is the Board of Trustees not fundraising specifically for those programs? I’m sure it’s easier to sell donors on funding scholarships than funding Chancellor bonuses, right?

The Technician piece leaves it pretty open-ended and that is 100% fine. The conclusion I came to was different than my friend’s, but when reading it from their lens, I understand their take.

On one hand they don’t really criticize or question Woodson’s salary in this piece and instead focus on the donation aspect. But on the other hand, the main image is an abstract version of Woodson, with money symbols in his eyes and a Scrooge McDuck pile of cash behind him…Leaving me really wondering how people are going to react to this? Is this a net positive for Woodson, or does this piece not go in-depth enough on the questions people may have, creating skepticism from some fans?

I honestly don’t know. But I’m always interested in how stories are presented and how that affects the subconscious of their readers.

If you’re an ‘ends over means’ person, then look, NC State scholarships just got a $1.5 million bump from a guy who didn’t HAVE to give it. If you’re an optimist who wants to see the good in the world, then Woodson is helping his university.

But if you’re already sour about rising tuitions for your kids attending State, still have a bunch of student loans from 10 years ago, and are feeling a little pinched on money these days, then seeing your Chancellor rake in $2.3 million per year with a $1.7 million bonus and be the highest paid in the nation, might make you frustrated.

Either way, I get your point.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Woodson and I think he’s had a tough go of it over the past 5 years. Between trying to navigate society’s equality debates and COVID, not many of us would want the stress that goes along with running a publicly funded University these days. So take that into account. Maybe that salary is worth it? Or maybe not.

All I know is that NC State hasn’t had many PR nightmares (unlike our neighbors in Chapel Hill) and they seem to be in a good place with athletics (if Basketball can get out of this rut). Maybe $4 million the going rate for that.

I guess that’s the debate.

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Wolferetti: Who is benefitting most from these NIL jersey sales? The players or the 3rd parties?

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WRAL investigative journalist (yes, those still exist), Brian Murphy, wrote a really great piece for WRALSportsfan.com a few days ago.

In this piece, Murphy investigates the deals signed to have players make money off of their jersey sales, and I found it interesting. I figured you might too.

First off, let’s take a step back and realize how we got here.

The NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) laws pass prior to this season and most college sports fans either agreed with the rulings or understood the argument for them. Universities are making a killing off of college athletics, and the players aren’t seeing a dime. To be fair, they are getting a free education, however, while tuition rates are rising, they aren’t keeping up with the influx of profits that major college programs have seen thanks to these new TV/Streaming deals that have been getting signed (ie. ACC/ESPN’s deal worth $1.86 BILLION over 12 years.)

So most fans were fine with players getting a cut. However, as these rules were passed, I don’t think there was enough scrutiny on how they were structured.

For instance, they insisted that schools could not directly pay players. Which on its face, seems smart, as schools and conferences argued that it would create corruption and have schools bidding for players.

What is legal, however, is 3rd party companies (which could be companies of boosters) can pay unlimited funds to a player for ‘their services.’ And sometimes those services don’t seem to match the compensation.

Here’s one example: QB Jadan Rashada was paid a reported $9.5 million for an NIL contract associated with Miami University (note the use of associated). Sure, Rashada wasn’t paid BY Miami Univeristy. That would be illegal. However, he is being paid by a company/booster whose deal almost certainly had a stipulation that he attend Miami. And what does he have to do for the $9.5 million? It’s not fully disclosed, but by the looks of it, he’ll be doing social media ads, appearances, autograph sessions, and some marketing.

For reference, note that Tom Brady, who is arguably the best quarterback in the history of the NFL previously held a deal with Under Armor that paid him around $10 million per year.

The point is, while the schools aren’t ‘paying players to attend their schools, a lot of times someone is (but in a roundabout way). And we’re supposed to pretend that the schools/coaches don’t really have a say in this? What if a company offers a huge NIL deal to a recruit that the coach doesn’t want? How are companies targeting un-committed recruits with these NIL deals? So, we’re being asked to pretend that these major NIL deals are happening without input from the coaches or the schools? Hmm. Hard for me to believe, but it’s possible.

Either way, it is convenient for the schools, no doubt, since they aren’t on the hook for the accusations of ‘buying players.’ But it’s even more convenient that they can’t pay players because it shields players from cutting into the REAL place that name and likeness are being exploited for HUGE money, and that’s in these cash cow TV deals (which, to be fair, were signed prior to NIL ruels).

Ok. That was both a little backstory and a little ranting. But hey, this is my opinion column and that is my opinion.

But anyways, back to the jersey sales.

The way they are doing this is that players are signing licensing agreements with a 3rd party licensing company to have their names and numbers listed on the product page for a custom team jersey.

Here is what the product page looks like.

Now, before we get into NC State’s deal. Let’s see what Murphy said about UNC’s deal, which has a little more transparency in the numbers.

UNC players sign with a 3rd party company called OneTeam, which deals with NIL licensing.

“The players will receive some money, likely around $4, from each jersey sold with their name and number.”
writes Murphy. He goes on to explain…

“UNC is charging Fanatics a 12% royalty fee for use of its trademarks and logos. That portion is split evenly between the university and athlete. The 12% comes from the wholesale price, not the retail figure. And of that 12%, OneTeam keeps 30%. On its website, it calls that figure customary “on the professional side” and says its for services such as managing the group licensing program, negotiating licensing deals, managing NIL approvals and protecting athlete NIL.

So if Fanatics has a wholesale price of $100 for a UNC jersey, the school’s royalty fee is $12. Of that $12, One Team collects $3.60, and $8.40 is left to be split evenly between the player and the school.”

So, let me try to do some math here.

If you buy a UNC jersey online, it’s going to cost you $130 + tax & shipping. Off the top, UNC gets 12%, and Fanatics (the company selling and shipping it) and the apparel company (Nike, Adidas) get the rest? It appears so.

After UNC takes their 12% cut, OneTeam jumps in and scoops up 30% for themselves and takes half of the rest for the players, which ends up being $4.20 for the player.

Note that OneTeam is paying the players, not the university, per the NIL rules. 

Meanwhile, at NC State, the players signed a licensing agreement with The Brandr Group (which like OneTeam, deals with NIL licensing). However, NC State wouldn’t comment on the deal’s financial breakdown, telling Murphy “NC State is not and cannot be a party to the licensing agreements between our players and The Brandr Group, so I am uncertain of the financial terms on this item.”

Brandr’s president and founder, Wesley Haynes, did say this:

“Proceeds of co-branded jerseys sold with the NIL of student-athletes who have opted into our group licensing agreement is roughly $10 to $12 a jersey for the student-athletes. This approximate payment of 10 percent of the final invoice price is aligned with existing industry standard best practices, and it represents the baseline for negotiations for our jersey programs.”

Ok, so NC State players seem to be getting a better deal, but we don’t know what Brandr takes.

That said, just look at all the hands in this pot.

– Fanatics gets a cut
– Surely Adidas/Nike gets a cut
– Brandr / OneTeam gets a cut
– The player gets a cut
– The school gets a cut

Pretty complicated situation, if you ask me.

If the schools could pay the players then you’d be able to cut out Fanatics and Brandr/One Team, leaving more money for the school and the players. Which would be good for both, right?

Well, the schools/conferences aren’t going to fight that fight, because if they are able to pay the players directly, then that’s going to open discussion about the players getting a chunk of the TV deal money, and you can bet your bottom dollar, that’s what they are going to work the hardest to protect.

But what’s the alternative? Allow the schools to pay the players? Then the richest teams would just pay kids the most money, no?

Well, and I’m just spitballing here, what if they came together and created a luxury tax, sort of like how Major League Baseball does it? Schools can pay players, and offer NIL deals, but have a soft cap.

If they go over that soft cap, then they are taxed at a huge rate on what they went over. That tax funds the smaller teams that can’t afford these huge NIL deals.

It seems to have worked in baseball. Over the past 10 years, the Royals have made the World Series twice and the Tampa Bay Rays have made it once. Those are some of the smallest payroll teams in baseball.

Either way, a lot has to be worked out. NIL is opening a lot of doors for players, and I applaud that. These kids deserve a cut.

However, the structure of NIL seems overcomplicated and allows for a lot of greedy hands to get into the pot. But with the rules, as they are, I don’t see another way. However, I’d love to see the schools and the players figure out a way to get those rules changed and to do most of this themselves, without having to get so many 3rd parties involved…

Because at the end of the day, with them involved they need enough money to go around and you know who is going to bear the brunt of that. You and me. That’s why a UNC or NC State Jersey is $130, but I could grab a Patrick Maholms jersey for $100.

That said, I just picked up a Leary jersey yesterday for $130. Don’t tell my wife.

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LOVED IT, HATED IT : From #13 NC State’s narrow win over ECU

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NC State won. I am happy. But this isn’t exactly what I wanted, however, it’s deep down what I expected.

NC State, coming in with a whole pre-season of hype and a national ranking of #13, wasn’t going to come in and dominate at ECU. At least that’s not what history said was going to happen. NC State, as a school in general, has a stigma attached to it. They’ll be at their worst when they’re ranked the best.

But that’s not a real thing, right? That’s just a myth, no?

Well, whatever it is, and whether it’s real or not, it’s obviously something that has seeped into the psyche of the guys in the locker room at NC State. It doesn’t seem to matter what sport. It doesn’t seem to matter who is on the staff. It just seems to be something that plagues the major athletic programs of this school.

But I swore it wasn’t going to happen this year. This team was too good to have an opening game lapse. They have a veteran team and a QB who’s been through the gauntlet. They have a defense full of future pros. They’ll blow ECU out of the water, which will catapult them into what will be one of the most successful seasons in program history.

But here I sit, just an hour after the game has ended, dealing with reality.

I’m so happy State won. There were a few minutes there where I was sure the worst-case scenario had come true. But man, this wasn’t exactly the way you wanted to start the season, even if the outcome was a win.

With that said let’s talk about what I loved and what I hated from this roller coaster of a win for NC State.

LOVED IT

Demi Sumo is legit – One of my biggest questions coming into the season was the running game. I knew Leary’s success was going to be closely tied with how successful NC State was going to be on the ground. And while I love Jordan Houston, I don’t think he’s the style of back that you can lean on as a workhorse. They needed a grind-it-out, physical back to compliment Houston. Today, we were assured that player exists on this roster.  Demi Sumo looked great.  He has some amazing runs, great yards after contact, and just looked like a guy that is going to break out this season. He finished with 79 yards on 14 carries and 1 TD. And while he wasn’t able to get in on 4 tries at the goal line in a big situation down the stretch, I think Sumo is going to be huge for the pack going forward (pun intended).

The Wolfpack Defense and Special Teams came up big – The NC State front line was consistent and great all day. They only allowed 59 yards on 21 carries to ECU’s running backs. The secondary could have been better, but they did come up with two big INTs. Meanwhile, Special Teams was great again, coming up with a blocked punt/touchdown. ECU’s offense isn’t all that bad, and they have some big-time weapons that NC State kept in check.

Thank you to ECU’s kicker, Owen Daffer– Not trying to kick a man when he’s down, but NC State doesn’t win this game if Daffer does his job. Thank goodness he didn’t. Daffer missed a PAT that would have tied the game, and a FG that would have won it. You gotta feel for the kid, especially in a small college town that passionate about football. But this is football, baby. You sign up for this when you sign up to play competitive sports at this level.

HATED IT

The Play Calling – Maybe you’ll disagree. I don’t know. But this is what I feared the most. NC State would come out with a conservative game plan on offense, and fall into a trance that would have them sleepwalking through the entire game. That’s kind of what happened offensively. NC State was predictable and ‘safe’ all game long. This is Leary’s year, man. Let the kid go back there and rip it. Empty that backfield, and let’s put up some points. Instead, it was the opposite. Leary was basically a glorified game manager in this one. There was almost no misdirection, no creativity, and no excitement from Beck. Heck, I saw more offense in the last 2 minutes of the UNC/App State game that came on after this game, then I saw in the whole time from the Pack.

And don’t pin this take on me, there was a lot of conversation about this on Twitter, the most notable coming from NY Post contributor, Thomas Casale.

It just seems like the pressure is always on Leary to make a play. Most of his throws are coming on 2nd or 3rd and long. It would be nice to see them just put the ball in his hands a little more, open it up and see what’s possible with this offense.

I also think the goal-line calls were awful and that stands out the most. A run up the middle with Houston (fumble) and then 4 straight with Demi Sumo (stopped). No QB sneaks, no putting the ball in your Heisman candidate’s hands to make a play. This is just my opinion here, but NC State isn’t going to reach its potential until they take the reigns off their offense. And I know it’s week 1, so maybe this gets better, but this isn’t new. This is something we’ve seen for a few years now that I’ve been concerned about. Playing not to lose instead of playing to win on offense.

Devin Leary’s performance
I won’t say I hated Leary’s performance, but it wasn’t a good look for game 1 from a kid who wants to be in the Heismann conversation. ECU’s defense did a good job against him, but ECU’s defense shouldn’t slow down a guy of Leary’s caliber. His 211 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT performance (17/33) wasn’t what I was hoping for and part of it was his fault, but part of it I hit on above (the play-calling). I don’t really think the staff put Leary in a position to succeed in this game, and maybe that won’t be a popular take, but it’s that’s how I saw it.

The NC State WRs (beside Thayer)
Thayer Thomas aside, I was hoping to see more from this group.  I wanted to see someone like Julian Gray, Keyone Lesane or Anthony Smith step up. Instead it was just Thomas who really stood out. No other receiver had more than 2 catches and the guy Leary hopes becomes his major deep threat, Devin Carter, dropped another catchable ball (that would have been a TD). This might be the reason for Leary’s performance, or maybe Leary’s performance was the reason for the lack of WR production. Who knows, either way, it’s got to get better in the next couple of weeks.

—-

Don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic that NC State came away with a win. I’m so thankful the season is still intact, and I hope this was an aberration, a game that we’ll look back on and laugh at. But I think the reality is that this squad has some work to do, and some growing to do before we see them at their final form. I think there will need to be adjustments made by the players and some by the coaches as the season progresses. I think NC State fans, myself included, thought this team would hit the ground running. They didn’t, but at the end of the day, it’s a win and that’s all that matters.

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Opinion

Money Ruins Everything, Even the Legend of Tommy White

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The world of college sports is WILD right now. In just the last year, any athlete can transfer penalty-free and everybody can get their bank accounts padded. The problem is, my head is stuck in this double-edged sword scenario; For far too long, universities have been crooks, abusing students by using their likeness and misleading them into bad situations.

But now, “innocent” athletes are being made into the crooks.

Don’t Go Tommy…

There is obviously more to every story than what’s spread around Twitter. Maybe coaches, playing time, position, change of scenery, whatever it may be, played a factor in their decision to leave. In the case of Tommy White, it seems to be a series of objections.

What we know for sure is, there was a line of schools sitting on a whole pile of cash (and let’s be honest, better ballparks) just chomping at the bit to sign him a check. Which turns this into a personal question for every reader, “You get hired by Company A. One year later Company B shows up in your email saying that you can work remotely, have all these extra benefits and oh yeah, how about a 40% raise?” Every. F*cking. Person. Would. Take. The. Deal. I don’t think Tommy’s a bad guy at all. He’s a really good baseball player that is seeing things elsewhere that look greener. Just like every one of us would do.

It’s a super tough pill to swallow in the case of Tommy White. He can’t say he didn’t feel the love. When WPN latches onto you as a legend, you’re set for life. Tommy Tank shirt sales were crazy, he was the lead convo on social daily, people in Raleigh loved Tommy and showed it. All that to say, Tommy, you need to show up to exit interviews. Some level of professionalism (and frankly respect), no matter how upset, needs to be shown.

There are going to be people on social media that will vilify Tommy White. Others will go after Boo (more on that later), Avent and others. The NCAA will once again get their steady stream of hate, although we can tell you with certainty, the chances of transferring weren’t all on missing out on the Tourney.

 

Moving Forward

And this is now the world we live in. The NCAA has minimal oversight. Programs are going to be crowned champions because their wallet was much, much deeper than State’s. Players will forgo relationships, support and fans for money and the promise of more.

Here is when I rile a few folks up…Give a lot of praise to Doeren, Moore and some to Keatts, as well. The 2022 football team is returning just about everyone, which after this week is beyond impressive. Wes Moore has gained far more than he’s lost each and every transfer period. And Keatts? He has done well building back up the roster and brought BACK a top-20 NBA pick.

All I ask is this…Support these programs and the players while they’re here. Don’t go bashing and calling out athletes if they go elsewhere (seriously, you clowns). Understand that State sports is on the rise, across the full spectrum of teams. We’re the underdogs and always will be.

#GoPack

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