by Eric Uribe
Minutes into Nevada’s game against two-win San Jose State on Saturday, Feb. 28, the Wolf Pack trailed against its inferior opponent, who hadn’t beat a Division I team in more than a year. The announced crowd of 5,325 fans (in reality, it might’ve been half that number) was lifeless, before a jeer came from the direction of the student section: Fire Carter! The 10-letter phrase was heard loud and clear throughout the bowels of Lawlor Events Center.
At this point, it’s nothing new. Nevada head coach David Carter is the easiest target in all of Wolf Pack sports. Support for Carter is at an all-time low with attendance numbers seeming to drop with every game. The Carter-led team is headed for its third straight losing season and fourth in the past six years since Carter took over. The same two words have been uttered by nearly every Wolf Pack diehard at some point in those six seasons. It’s been written on Facebook and Twitter. It won’t be the last time we hear it. I’ve long wondered how Carter keeps such thick skin under a barrage of criticism. I asked him back in November how he dealt with his critics. His response was simple:
“I learned a long time ago that you can’t make everyone happy,” he said in his soft-spoken voice.
You certainly can’t. However, it’s time chants like “Fire Carter” stop. Look, this isn’t a pro-Carter or anti-Carter column. It’s not about whether he should or shouldn’t keep his job. This is about respecting a man.
Carter has been with Nevada since 1999, starting as an assistant coach. Since then, the man’s dedicated 16 years of his life to the program — almost as long as the age of many freshman walking this campus and longer than nearly anyone in all of the athletic department.
He’s seen the Wolf Pack’s rise from an unknown program to an NCAA Tournament-caliber team and fall to a current college basketball afterthought. Through the ups and downs, he’s been the only constant in the basketball program. You can question his coaching and recruiting all you like, but there’s no denying his commitment to Nevada. Carter might be one of the most genuinely nice people in the entire department, too. No, I’m not going to pretend I know Carter that well as a person from the interviews I’ve done with him over the past three seasons. However, I have a strong time believing he’s not as sincere as he comes off.
Moreover, Carter has a family. He’s a husband and father to two children. This is his job, how he provides for his family and keeps them safe. For fans to say he deserves to be fired is just not right for all the aforementioned reasons. I get it, free speech, yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes, you have the right to say fire Carter, but that doesn’t make it righteous.
Imagine if your life was under a microscope like Carter’s. Every single person would see how you perform at work or in the classroom. I bet you’d have critics, too. How would you handle someone — much less thousands like Carter — saying you don’t deserve to be where you are?
Believe it or not, Carter is more than just the Wolf Pack’s coach. He’s a person, just like you.
Eric Uribe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Uribe_Eric.