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ESPN's Bilas to State fans: Prepare to be disappointed

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UNC coach Roy Williams spoke about the firing of Mark Gottfried, his N.C. State counterpart.

Mark Gottfried hasn't even cleaned out his office yet and speculation is running wild about who the next basketball coach at N.C. State should be.

In an unusual move for college basketball, Gottfried is finishing out the season. The Wolfpack has at least five games left -- four regular season ones -- and at least one ACC Tournament game.

The Wolfpack will host Notre Dame at noon Saturday, its first game since Wednesday night's 97-73 home thrashing at the hands of rival North Carolina. The following day, the university made it public that Gottfried would be fired.

UNC coach Roy Williams spoke Friday at his media session as his Tar Heels prepare to host tough ACC opponent Virginia on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. Williams said he was "disappointed" in how Gottfried's time as N.C. State coach came to an end.

"It's disappointing," Williams said. "I'm not an athletic director. I'm a coach. I think we should fire more athletic directors."

Williams was a little tongue-in-cheek, but then made a more serious point.

"I do have one strong feeling ... I don't think any college coach should be fired during the season," Williams said.

WATCH: Roy Williams on Gottfried's firing
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UNC coach Roy Williams spoke about the firing of Mark Gottfried, his N.C. State counterpart.



Williams also raised some eyebrows when he confessed that while he was the head coach at Kansas, he was approached twice about coaching the Wolfpack. Listen to William's comments below:

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UNC coach Roy Williams says he was approached about coaching N.C. States twice while he was at Kansas.



It's hard to imagine Roy in red. He's thoroughly ingrained in Chapel Hill lore, having played freshman basketball at UNC and then serving as Dean Smith's longtime assistant before embarking on his own Hall of Fame coaching path.

But the fact that the Wolfpack reached out to such a high-profile coach in the past raises a question that seems to be on the minds of many these days: How high should the Wolfpack's expectations be?

ESPN basketball commentator Jay Bilas, who played at Duke in the 1980s, echoed the thoughts of some other national scribes in basically saying Wolfpack fans should temper their expectations.

Bilas told ABC11 that "N.C. State's a good job; it's not a great job."

Bilas noted that last time the Wolfpack went searching for a basketball coach, all the top candidates said no, "and I would prepare for that again."

WATCH: ESPN's Jay Bilas talks about the N.C. State coaching situation
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ESPN's Jay Bilas talks about the N.C. State coaching situation.



Bilas talked about the changes in the ACC since his playing days, when the conference had just eight teams. Many factors are in play that have essentially reduced N.C. State to a second-rung program, he contends.

"It's a very difficult league now," Bilas said. "There are other jobs out there that are a lot better. I know (State fans) don't want to hear that, but it's true.

"And the top targets that I'm reading in the paper, I don't think are coming," he added.

WATCH: Bilas on the changing dynamics of the ACC
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ESPN's Jay Bilas on how the ACC has changed since his playing days at Duke.



So why is Bilas so willing to dismiss N.C. State? Perhaps it's justifiable, as the Wolfpack has fallen off the pace set by neighbors Duke and UNC in the past 25 years or so. Or maybe it's just lingering bad memories from college -- Duke won only three of eight games against N.C. State during Bilas' four years with the Blue Devils.

UNC's Williams is a little more bullish about his nearby ACC rival.

"It's a great job, great school, great athletic program," Williams said. "Lot of basketball tradition."

Williams can afford to be a little charitable -- he's 32-3 against N.C. State as a head coach. Still, Williams is right. Though N.C. State's fortunes have tailed off in recent memory, the Wolfpack does boast two NCAA championships, one of only 15 universities to win more than one, as well as 10 ACC Tournament titles, scores of great players, a legacy of legendary coaches and even a perfect 27-0 season in 1973 (though the Pack was NCAA-ineligible).

WATCH: Williams on the prestige of coaching at N.C. State
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UNC coach Roy Williams on the coaching job at N.C. State.



Fast forward to today: The state's largest university has first-rate facilities, highly regarded recruiting classes and a strong fan base. The question remains, why has consistent success been so elusive on the court? That's a whole other discussion.

"It's a hard job," Williams said. "Everyone in this league's a hard job."

So it remains to be seen who will take this "hard job."

ABC11's Mark Armstrong profiled two names likely to be in serious consideration - Dayton coach Archie Miller, a former Wolfpack player, and UNC-Wilmington coach Kevin Keatts, who honed his craft as an assistant to Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Other names will surely emerge in the days ahead.

WATCH: Mark Armstrong profiles a couple of possible coaching candidates
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Former Wolfpack player and current Dayton head coach Archie Miller is the hot name on everyone's list.



In the meantime, Gottfried is still the head man for a couple more weeks.

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