It has been almost four days since UNC running back, Giovani Bernard, returned a punt all the way back for a touchdown. It has been four days and the fires of the Pack nation haven’t been put out yet. And they will most likely not be put out for a while with three homes games left and one tough road test for the Wolfpack.
Just like at any other school with a historic, instate rivalry, Wolfpack fans don’t take it well losing to the UNC Tar Heels. Pack fans go through three stages of recovery after a loss like that. The first stage involves a pretty horrible state of depression followed by stage two which involves a lot of self-doubt and lack of faith in the world. The stage fans find themselves in right now is the third stage: the angry stage. The anger stage is made up of totally relentless anger and that wrath has mostly made its way to Debbie Yow’s desk at NC State Athletics.
This terrible anger isn’t universal to everyone in the Wolfpack nation. I think most sports fans go through an angry stage when their team loses an important rivalry match-up. However, at State, that anger is mostly found among the Tom O’brien bashers–that selective group of Pack fans with their minds made up about Head Coach T.O.B, his conservatively play-calling, and general direction for Wolfpack Football. I know these fans. They are everywhere, all over the state, and a lot of them can be found around Raleigh, home city of the Pack.
It’s easy to look at Saturday’s defeat and want to point fingers at T.O.B and the rest of Pack coaching. However, even though not the purpose of this article, coaching wasn’t the reason NC State lost the Carolina game on Saturday. I have gone over that in a previous post. The truth is that at 5-3 (2-2), the Wolfpack football season, even though hurt, isn’t loss yet. Even though NC
State has lost it winning streak and its likely shot at the ACC championship game, NC State can still finish the season very strong.
The Pack’s opportunity to finish the rest of 2012 strong is one of Tom O’brien’s saving graces (not in theological context, please). The Pack heads from this defeat to a Homecoming game in Raleigh against Virginia, another home game against Wake Forest, a road game in “Death Valley,” and a closing home game against Boston College. Even though NC State
has managed to mess up easy wins in the past, Tom O’brien’s Wolfpack also bounce back well from tough losses. NC State can easily finish the season 8-4 (5-3) and be heading to a pretty good bowl game.
Who knows? There’s even a chance that the world turns upside down in Death Valley and the Pack manages to snatch a victory from a trip down to Clemson. We should know by now that anything can happen in the ACC.
In the end, if the Pack is able to finish the season 8-4 and hopefully win its bowl game, then T.O.B’s place at NC State isn’t going anywhere. As a closing argument to the TOB bashers out there, it seems pretty irrational to fire a coach who has gone 5-1 against your main rival after he finishes with an 8-4 record (including a win against #3 Florida State). Try telling another coach that he should come over to NC State and coach football after that.
What Wolfpack fans need to do after the rest of the anger fades away is continue supporting the Pack in the upcoming home games, show the very-talented team that the Pack Nation still has faith in them, and show some gratitude for a coach that has brought some sense of “In-state dignity” back to the Wolfpack. As an NC State alumnus and fellow Wolfpack, that is what I recommend.