N.C. State basketball coach Mark Gottfried won't make any friends among basketball officials or ACC higher-ups with his comments at a student rally prior to the N.C. State-UNC basketball game tonight, but he certainly has made some among the Wolfpack faithful.
Gottfried had played it fairly straight in the aftermath of former N.C. State stars Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta getting thrown out of their seats Saturday for protesting calls as the Wolfpack got hammered by Florida State.
But then Gottfried got taped, apparently by a student, saying this about official Karl Hess's decision and the ACC's reprimand of Hess for not following the correct protocol:
"I think it was weak. It was bad and I thought the official was completely out of line 100 percent. I'm disappointed, quite frankly, in the ACC, because not only did he throw out two of N.C. State's greats, he threw out two of the ACC's greats, and the league is supporting an official rather than supporting former great players.
"The former great players, in my opinion, were embarrassed and wronged when they shouldn't have been. I don't think you can have rabbit ears like that if you're a referee and start throwing people out. I was disappointed in the whole thing. So they gave a reprimand tonight to the official, but it was pretty weak in my opinion."
The ACC did reprimand Hess on Monday night for his failure to follow the proper protocol in ejecting fans, but that was about it. Hess also wrote in an email that Corchiani and Gugliotta were ejected for "excessive demonstration on several calls as they came right up to the scorer’s table."
Meanwhile, N.C. State AD Deborah Yow has seized upon this moment to the utmost, effectively meaning the run-up to the UNC-NCSU game has been about this moment and not the fact N.C. State has lost two huge games in the past five days. It's a wise decision by Yow, and Gottfried would be well-advised to let her handle this from now on.
So now Corchiani and Gugliotta will be honored, with the 1988-89 N.C. State team before tonight's game against the Tar Heels. Think that will throw the crowd into a frenzy? You're right. If there was ever a night where the crowd in Raleigh will be primed for an upset, this is it.
As for tonight's officials, I feel a little sorry for them. They'll get the blowback from the Hess incident big-time. I hope that the game itself is clean and well-played, because the night also has the potential to turn ugly with this much emotion seething on all sides.