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Time to move on from Keatts?

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

(Photo: Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)

As the end of the season draws near, the conversation surrounding coaches on the hot-seat is sure to pick up. One of the coaches drawing scrutiny, at least from the fan base, is NC State head man Kevin Keatts.

Despite a winning percentage of .580 over his five seasons, the Wolfpack fan base is running out of patience with Keatts after missing out on each of the last three NCAA tournaments (State was firmly on the bubble in 2019-20 when the tournament was cancelled). This begs the question, what are realistic expectations for a program that hasn’t been relevant in 30 years?

Managing expectations is key for a coach when transitioning from their original contract to their first contract extension. Which is one of the reasons you’ve seen many high prestige coaches make their way to the SEC, which has schools that are flush with football money. In most cases not only are jobs in the SEC paying more, but they also come with far less pressure to win on a year in year out basis, as Joe Giglio, of 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, did a great job of pointing out on his show the other day.

Which brings us back to NC State’s dilemma with Keatts. While one NCAA appearance in five seasons may not seem like a successful run from the outside looking in, the circumstances also have to be factored into the equation. Keatts inherited a team that was 12-27 in ACC play the two seasons prior to his arrival and there were serious NCAA allegations swirling around the program. Despite that, Keatts walked in and led the Pack to a third place finish in the ACC (their best since 03-04) and a NCAA tournament berth followed by a near miss in 2018-19.

With all that said, even with the heat coming down from the fanbase, Keatts received a strong vote of confidence from Athletic Director Boo Corrigan and sources around the program have indicated to me that, barring something unforeseen, Kevin Keatts will return next season.

But Keatts wouldn’t be the first coach run out of Raleigh by a restless Wolfpack fanbase despite moderate success. Coming off of five consecutive tournament appearances from 2001-2006, Herb Sendek and NC State mutually agreed to part ways, due in large part to what Sendek perceived as a lack of support from the fanbase. He was replaced with Wolfpack legend Sidney Lowe who proceeded to go 25-55 in the ACC over the course of four seasons and made a whopping ZERO NCAA tournament appearances before being unceremoniously fired.

Be careful what you wish for Wolfpack fans.


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