Media's Headlines Don't Help Matters
Since word broke that neither Lavin nor Beilein were taking the job, the biggest source of frustration for me has been the inevitable way in which the majority of the media has reported the story. Headlines like "Beilein, Lavin spurn Wolfpack" and "Lavin will stay in broadcasting; turns down NC State" have popped up across the country, and if you've been privy to the actual details of the situation, you know the reports that Lavin and Beilein turned down the NC State job (with the implication that neither was seriously interested) are false.
I don't blame the media for their word choice--they can only report what they have, and they of course have formed their stories based on the public statements made by Lavin and Beilein after their respective deals fell apart. In the absense of other information, the media must take those statements at face value.
And don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm suprised by any of this--when discussions between a school and a coaching prospect are as public as they were in this case, prepared statements that deny interest after talks go sour are standard operating procedure. It's just difficult to watch helplessly as NC State takes another big PR hit.
By now, everything has snowballed. Since Barnes and Calipari decided to stay where they are, people have been running with the notion that no one of repute is interested in the Wolfpack job. No one wants to fight Duke and UNC on an annual basis, no one wants to deal with the fans, etc. The reports that have come after the Lavin/Beilein ordeal have only strengthened those sentiments nationally.
I didn't have to spend much time looking around to the blogosphere to find examples of what we're dealing with. For instance:
Lavin and Beilein join a long list of candidates that didn’t want any part of the NC State job, including Memphis’ coach John Calipari, Texas’ Rick Barnes and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that NC State fans who were lusting after the demise of then head basketball coach Herb Sendek were overestimating how attractive that job would be when it came open. So far, Texas' Rick Barnes, Memphis' John Calipari, West Virginia's John Beilein, and ESPN's Steve Lavin agree with me.
Those are popular opinions these days. I'm not interested in arguing about the attractiveness of the NC State job, as that is a debatable topic regardless of what really happened with Lavin/Beilein. What isn't up for debate is the interest for the job shown by Steve Lavin and John Beilein. Lavin had gone so far as to begin contacting assistant coaches for his staff, and Beilein would be in Raleigh but for the last-minute hiccup over his buyout. To indicate that they weren't interested in the job is to veer pretty far from the truth (especially in Beilein's case).
Because it is in neither man's best interests to admit to those facts, we get this. And then we get this. And we can do nothing but grin and bear it.