As I was riding into work today I was listening to 850 The Buzz, as I'm apt to do, and the topic of conversation centered around the '83 Championship.
This year, of course, is the 25th Anniversary of said title. Tonight, WRAL plans to run a special at 7:30 on the title run and all the magical moments that surrounded it.
It was a special time for my university, and it's one we--as State fans--always will treasure. But I think I have to agree with the hosts, Adam Gold and Joe Ovies: It's time to move on.
We've been living in the past for too long. When I started at State, '83 was just over a decade away. Now it's a quarter-century. I was at Technician when we put together a 15th Anniversary piece, and I remember thinking then that 15 years was a long damn time away. Now it's a decade longer.
We need to focus on the here-and-now, because that's all we have to show to potential recruits. We can point to some trophies in a glass case--so can San Francisco and Oklahoma State. But kids today know nothing of our past success, unless they just so happened to grow up State fans with parents who shared it with them as a child.
Cold reality: In a year or so, a college freshman will have been born in the 90's. Given that our last real solid team--with Corchiani and Monroe--was the 1990-1991 squad, the entirety of these kids' lives will have been lived AFTER our last great team. Even scarier: The kids born during the year of our last ACC title, 1987, are beginning to graduate college this year.
It sucks, because it means I'm old.
It also sucks because it means there's no legitimate reason a top-flight recruit should know of State ever having been a great program. No more so than they should think the same way of Houston. We haven't posted any measure of real, tangible success (read:titles) in their lifetimes.
All we have are old trophies and great memories, but those can't recruit for us anymore. We have to sell what we have, not what we had.
Unfortunately, we're competing against programs in the area that have tremendous built-in recruiting advantages. Duke and Carolina don't have to recruit at all, really--they choose. I could sign three McDonald's All-Americas with my eyes closed at one of those two programs. The hype for the Duke-Carolina games seems to get bigger each year, and has turned into its own self-hyping phenomenon. Are we surprised that the two top programs in the league by a good margin are Duke and Carolina, and have been for a decade?
All that success builds the recruiting pool for these two schools across the country. Hell, one of the top point guard prospects in the country, John Wall, is right in Carolina's backyard in Cary, and despite his own admission that he grew up a Carolina fan, he wasn't offered because they ALREADY have too many top-flight PGs on their roster! When you have the luxury of not offering the best talent in the country because there's no room on your squad, a trained monkey could coach your team to 20-win seasons year-in and year-out. (Which makes you wonder about Matt Doherty...)
All of this is to say: we've got a tough fight ahead of us, and it's not made any easier by where we're located. But, we've got to shed this anchor of the '83 championship, because all it's doing is weighing us down at the moment. The more we scream about past titles and miracles and magic, the more desperate we appear to the outside world--including recruits.
Sure, show them the trophy case. Make your point about returning to that level of greatness. But if Sidney's wise--and we're wise as a fanbase--the '83 and '74 championships will be near the end of the recruiting tour, not near the beginning.
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