Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The Tale of Two Teams TOB Left Behind
This year confirms that coaching still matters, but when you look at NC State's struggles, you have to wonder what happened at NC State while TOB was there. When he left BC, there was a definite structure, consistency and of course a group of players that served as the foundation of the next two division winning teams. Conversely the roster that Dave Doeren inherited after TOB's stay in Raleigh lacks the same level of depth and talent. How did it turn out so differently for a guy like TOB who approaches things the same way? There were a few different factors.
Selling NC State in Ohio
When TOB took over at BC, he made Ohio and specifically Southwest Ohio-Cincinnati a recruiting focal point. He was a Cincinnati guy and over the years filled up his staff with guys who had roots in Ohio. The Cincinnati area had strong Catholic programs that became a natural feeding ground for his teams. We didn't get the state's five star recruits, but he signed plenty of solid three star guys who didn't get Ohio State offers. When Jags took over Nick Larkin, Clif Ramsey, Dejuan Tribble, Matt Tennant, and Alex Albright were just some of the guys who would either be all conference or future NFL players. All came from Ohio. Even though he brought Dana Bible, Don Horton and Jim Bridge with him to NC State, the Midwest guys never had the same level of success recruiting the Buckeye state. I don't know if selling a bigger, southern state school made it tougher to connect with Midwest kids or the staff decided to focus elsewhere, but the NC State roster doesn't have the same level of Cincy talent that BC had.
A Strong batch of New England talent
Regardless of what a coach does, he is still very reliant on local talent. It just so happened that the end of TOB's tenure in BC coincided with a bumper crop of New England prospects. Gosder Cherilus, Jamie Silva, Thomas Claiborne, Mike McLaughlin, and Ron Brace are all guys who probably would have ended up at BC regardless of who had been coach. I don't know if TOB lucked out locally in North Carolina or if you can luck out when there are so many other FBS programs in the state.
Recruiting is a young mans game. Sure there are the recruiting nutjobs (like Addazio) who love to beat the bushes looking for kids, but most coaches really don't like it. And the travel and connecting with younger kids only gets tougher as you get older. When TOB went to NC State, he brought most of his BC staff with him. And most of those guys were old or getting older. Some of them viewed NC State as their reward for all the work at BC. I don't know if they had the same fire or desire to build something or prove themselves. Contrast that with TOB's first BC staff. It was filled with young and hungry guys who were out to prove themselves and find recruits. Five of the guys on TOB's first BC staff went on to be FBS head coaches. He didn't have the same level of coaching talent in Raleigh.
I don't know what else is going on with Doeren and NC State's struggles. As I wrote at the opening, coaching still matters, but I do think other factors impact how a coach succeeds in one place and struggles in another.