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The Rising Fall of NC State Athletics

A Brief History of NC State Fall Sports

Time for smiles
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Congratulations fans of NC State Athletics fall sports, these are your salad days, Bojangles days. NC State had every fall sport enter the NCAA postseason for the first time in the history of the program. You can thank our Athletic Director Debbie Yow for this achievement, as it doesn’t happen without her leadership.

  • Overall - 1st ever Top 10 Final Fall Finish, 7th (or 8th) NCAA Director’s Cup
  • Women’s Cross Country - 3rd straight Top 10 finish, 8th at NCAA.
  • Men’s Cross Country - 2nd straight Top 25 finish, 17th at NCAA.
  • Women's Soccer - 2nd straight NCAA Tourney, 2nd round NCAA, 20-year NCAA drought before last season’s trip under 5th-year head coach Tim Santoro.
  • Men’s Soccer - 1st round NCAA Tourney, under 1st-year head coach George Kiefer, ending an 8-year drought.
  • Women’s Volleyball - Best finish in program history, 2nd round NCAA, under first-year head coach Linda Hampton-Keith.
  • Football - Ranked 24th, pending a win at Arizona State, who play their home games in El Paso, Arizona; For NC State, it would be the best finish since 2002. Coach Doeren is building a program recruiting class by recruiting class.

Yow’s Culture Of Accountability

In Men’s Soccer, Yow made what seemed like a homerun bicycle kick hire in Kelly Findley from Butler after he led the Bulldogs to the College Cup (NCAA Soccer’s Final Four branding) the previous year. He was never able to get NC State into the tournament, and he was let go in favor of George Kiefer. In this, Coach Kiefer’s first year, he led the Wolfpack back to the NCAA tournament, for the first time in eight years.

In Women’s Volleyball, Yow was faced with a program so terrible, that if Steven had to preview them as a basketball opponent, the post may have won BTP a Pulitzer. How bad, you ask, cringing because you know its bad. In the preceding decade, the Wolfpack compiled the following records in ACC play (the ACC is at best a mid-major in Volleyball): 1-15, 1-15, 0-16, 0-16, 0-16, 1-21, 0-22, 0-22, 3-17, 1-19. That works out to a 0.037 win percentage, that’s one ACC win every OTHER season. This stretch of Fowler-led clusterfuckedness makes the LRI look like a prestigious achievement.

Enter the hiring of Coach Bryan Bunn who turned the program around, going, 4-16, 8-12, 12-8, 11-9, 5-13, 5-15. Even in his worst season, he topped the previous 10 years, and yes he tailed off. So it takes real guts to fire a coach who took NC State to its best run of ACC play in 25 years. Yow replaced Bryan Bunn with Linda Hampton-Keith, who, in her second year, takes NC State to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

Fall Director's Cup Results By Year


Note: For Football, 26th is the official designation of all teams that finish outside of the Top 25 final rankings but win their bowl game. For teams that do not win their bowl game, and finish outside the Top 25, they will tie for something around 45th. For teams finishing in the Top 25, the points are determined by their final finish in the polls. For teams outside the Top-25, bowl winners receive 45 points, and bowl losers receive 25 points.

Note: Football scoring changed in 2006 to award Bowl teams that finished outside the final poll, prior to 2006, only the top 25 teams received points. Starting in 2006, Bowl winners received 45 points, and Bowl losers received 25 points.

Note: Overall Rank based on the scoring system used as of the year it was scored.

Number of Teams Scoring Director Cup Points By Year

This year's results show how Yow's strategy to hold coaches accountable, belief that she can find someone who can produce better results, and attention to all sports is paying off in an improved athletics department. The improvement of the program under Yow can be seen clearly when looking at the number of teams that are scoring points in the Director's Cup.

Note: Teams Scoring Points uses the Football Bowl Rule retrospectively so that it's more of an apples to apples comparison.

If you’re looking at those 66 scoring years in the Director’s Cup, realize that 30 of them came under Yow’s 9-year tenure. If we do a WAR% for the average NC State AD prior to Yow, you’d see that Yow has improved the Fall Sports post season results by 48% over the course of her tenure. That’s bottom line improvements, not just incremental better play within the seasons.

Scoring Years By Sport - Cross Country Dominance

As I'm sure it won't come as a big surprise to most on here, the NC State Men and Women's Cross Country teams have been the only consistent scorers for the Wolfpack since the inception of the Director's Cup in 1993. At least one of Rollie Geiger's teams (1981-Present men, 1981-2006 women) scored in every year except 1994. And there are only 3 years under Geiger where both of the Cross Country teams didn't score. If NC State ever puts another statue of a coach on Campus, I vote for Geiger. Having said that, I do think he is stretched thin also running the Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field programs for both Men and Women in addition to the Men's Cross Country team.