Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NCSU's Yow addresses football, spring sports, marketing ... and Tuffy

The Raleigh Sports Club was packed Wednesday, and for good reason. New N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow addressed the club, and as you might expect, it was a straight talk about where the Wolfpack is headed.

It also included some insight into the football program, Olympic sports, agents, the marketing of N.C. State and even an interesting comment about The News & Observer.

But the big news of the day? Well, Tuffy, of course. Tuffy is the new Wolfpack mascot, a Tamaskan dog bred to look like a wolf, who delighted fans in the Thursday night win over Cincinnati.

“I’ve never spent so much time talking about a dog,” Yow joked to the crowd of several hundred.

State introduced a new dog at the opener against Western Carolina, but that Tamaskan, which Yow said was a female, did not work out. Yow said they found the current Tuffy from a private owner in New Bern, who wants to stay anonymous. “They are thrilled that their dog, the Tamaskan, is our Tamaskan,” Yow said.

Yow said the school will create a Facebook page for Tuffy and possibly even electronic birthday wishes that, say, a grandparent can order to send to a grandchild from the mascot.

“We have some plans for Tuffy,” Yow said.

On a more serious note, Yow – the sister of former Wolfpack coach Kay Yow and a native of Gibsonville - said the chance to return to her native state and work for new chancellor Randy Woodson led her to Raleigh. A headhunter who had called her through the years called one more time, and this time she shocked the headhunter by saying , Maybe. In particular, she wanted to meet Woodson to see if there was a fit.

“I met Randy and he blew me away,” she said. “He is stable, he is talented and he is going to stay.”

On other issues:

@ Yow said N.C. State athletics could no longer stand to be last in the Sears Director Cup standings among ACC schools and last in overall graduation rates.

“They are going to be flipped,” she said of those numbers. 

@ Yow said she had heard many Wolfpack fans complaining about The News & Observer but said, “The N&O has been fair to us.”

@ Yow raved about a recent Wall Street Journal article praising the hiring potential of N.C. State graduates.

@ Yow said she felt for North Carolina and its football troubles, saying, “A rogue tutor can happen anyway. The other [staff member] is different.” UNC assistant coach John Blake resigned earlier this season after questions about his connections to a California sports agent.
@ Yow said she is thrilled with State's 3-0 start in football, but said Saturday's game at Georgia Tech is a critical one. She said she was impressed by how coach Tom O'Brien commands the attention of his team during meetings. "As an AD, that's the first sign of trouble, if the coach is speaking and they aren't really on point."

State has had four straight losing seasons, three under O'Brien. "I hope he turns it. He's a good guy. I'd like to see him turn it," Yow said.

Yow also said she wore a watch that celebrated Maryland's 2001 ACC football title, and plans to continue to wear it until State wins the league (which it hasn't done since 1979). "I'm going to wear it until that's us and then it goes into the trash at that point," she said

@ N.C. State has struggled in the non-revenue sports, a point that hasn’t been lost on Wolfpack fans. Yow praised new volleyball coach Bryan Bunn, who was hired by Lee Fowler, and women’s soccer coach Steve Springthorpe. But as for spring sports, she said, “All the spring sports are on notice.”

She said State would look to address what the programs need, and then, “We’re going to expect a heightened level of achievement.”

@ Yow spoke with fire about the issue with athletes and the letter she sent to all the registered agents in North Carolina, saying the school would pursue legal action if an agent cost her athletes eligibility.
“They have no right to do that, and they are going to pay personally,” she said.

@ In response to a fan’s question about N.C. State’s marketing and sports information efforts, Yow spoke directly about Annabelle Myers, the Wolfpack’s long-time sports information director. “Annabelle’s really not as bad an SID as the message boards think she is, but she does need some direction, and we’re going to provide that for her.”

(Quick aside - the Capital Sports Report has known Myers for years and finds her quite professional, helpful and responsible.)

As for marketing, she said, “We’re going to have a whole branding campaign.”

However, Yow said N.C. State had the lowest athletics department budget in the ACC, and that would affect any initiatives.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to have Yow running our athlectic department. The sports information dept is the biggest challenge in my eyes at this point.

    Continuing to win in football is vitally important. I worry about what type of team we will filed when Russell Wilson is gone. I hope no contract extension is done till we string two winning seasons together.