Tom Sorensen

Mark Gottfried didn’t need to be fired; since N.C. State disagreed it should hire ...

Some coaches obviously need to go. Mark Gottfried, the N.C. State basketball coach, was not one of them. Athletic director Debbie Yow could have justified keeping him. She also can justify her decision to fire him.

Gottfried’s team is difficult to watch. The talent is irrefutable but only on special occasions is it evident. The Wolfpack runs every play as if they just drew it in the dirt. OK, you there, you run to the baseline and come back for the ball. You there, you set a pick on somebody somewhere. And kid, you sprint off the court, and when you get to the heavy guy with the loud voice and the heavily salted popcorn run back onto the court.

Gottfried was a much better coach when Bobby Lutz, the former Charlotte 49ers coach, was on his staff.

What I like about Gottfried is that he played up the rivalries with Duke and North Carolina. These games meant more, and he was going to prove it.

He didn’t, although he did a better job than many of his predecessors. Who replaces him? The last time Yow engaged in a high profile coaching search, she was turned down more than a sportswriter at last call.

Coaching basketball in the ACC is a tough way to make a living. The talent supersedes North Carolina and Duke. Look at the array of coaches and the array of talent they attract.

Who does N.C. State hire to compete? How badly does it want to win and how much is it willing to spend?

There was a time when N.C. State, or Charlotte, could have hired Gregg Marshall inexpensively. Marshall, now at Wichita State, is unquestionably one of best coaches in college basketball, and I assure you he won’t back down from anybody.

He’s local. Marshall is from Greenwood, S.C., the town that gave us former Carolina Panthers Josh Norman and Armanti Edwards. Marshall turned Winthrop into a small-time power, a team that annually went to the NCAA tournament and never simply passed through.

I don’t know if the Wolfpack can afford Marshall. It will cost them at least $4 million a year. Imagine if you will – and this will require a massive imagination – N.C. State competing successfully with two of the best programs in the country as well as in the conference. Might alumni be more likely to give?

I got to know Marshall when he was at Winthrop, and I respect him. So do his school, his players and their fans.

Again, I don’t know if N.C. State can hire him. But if it has the basketball program that the school’s fans imagine, shouldn’t it try?

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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