Whittenburg's return to Raleigh a welcomed accident
Posted July 30, 2013
Updated July 31, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Thirty years ago, Dereck Whittenburg and North Carolina State shocked the world. Last week, the former Wolfpack guard received another surprise involving his alma mater.
"It happened by accident," Whittenburg said. "Coach (Mark) Gottfried and I were just talking, Larry Farmer had just left, gone back to Western Michigan. He was really asking me about other guys who might be interested, and he kind of threw it out there, 'what do you think?' And I said, 'what do you mean?' And he said, 'about coming back!'"
Whittenburg fielded the phone-call in the big apple - and made the decision in a New York minute.
"He said 'when do you want to start?' and I said 'I want to start today,'" Whittenburg recalled. "He said, 'where are you?' I said, 'right in front of the building, can you let me in?'
“I wanted to get started, I was that excited,” Whittenburg continued. “I drove right down from New York. I just wanted to show him that I appreciate this opportunity and I'm ready to get back to work."
Whittenburg has wasted little time in getting going in Raleigh as the ink is still drying on the paperwork filled out a mere day ago. He's already attended workouts as Gottfried's senior assistant and director of player development.
"It gives me a lot of opportunities, in a restricted way, to help the players and the staff in any way I can," Whittenburg said.
That opportunity to teach trumped all else, including what became his second love: broadcasting.
"I loved TV," said Whittenburg. "It was exciting. ESPN and Disney were great to me. I had a wonderful experience. I just missed the camaraderie with the kids and the coaches, and I missed the game."
Thus begins Whittenburg's third stint on NC State's staff and fourth go-around with the university -- proving that you can go home again, several times over.