Our good friend over at CBS Sports, Gregg Doyel, who strangely has been pretty kind lately to Coach K and to this year’s Blue Devils team, is on a mission. He’s trying to figure out how a Duke team that was once loved is now hated.
Maybe Doyel should just spend some time looking through his archives. That would be a good start. There is no better example of a person “turning” on the Duke program. Remember, he’s the same guy who wrote this glowing book (right) about Duke basketball in 1999, but then turned douche bag soon after.
Now we’re going to deal with Doyel in a second, but let’s focus on his most recent article.
The basic idea is, Duke use to be liked, but now they’re not, even though nothing has really changed with the program in that time frame. He comes up with three reasons.
One, Dick Vitale. ESPN has always been the tail wagging the dog in college basketball, and Vitale is the rattle at the end of that tail. Vitale loves Duke and Coach K, and he won’t shut up about it. Doesn’t matter if he’s calling a Duke game or a non-Duke game. He talks about Duke, and he talks glowingly, and people are tired of it.
What more can I say about this reasoning? Vitale throws a ton of praise at Duke. Yes he does. He throws a ton of praise at Coach K. He also throws a ton of praise at North Carolina, Roy Williams, Gary Williams or anything that he sees as a positive towards college basketball. During Duke’s last game against North Carolina, he brought up Jim Boeheim three times that night (and Syracuse wasn’t even playing).
Dickie V is a positive guy and he loves this sport. Hell, I wouldn’t even call him a good X’s and O’s analyst. He’s all about the praise. He’s all about the joy of college basketball. This is who he is.
Now does he talk more about Duke more than other teams? I have no idea. I’ve never counted. But you know what? Neither has anyone else, including Gregg Doyel. Now I’m bias and maybe I’m missing it. Or maybe, when Vitale talks about Duke, it just stands out more and annoys people like Doyel more because he’s anti-Duke.
Bias works both ways people.
Do me a favor…someone, anyone….watch 10 games called by Vitale next year. Go ahead and mark down how many times he mentions any team (including Duke) that’s not related to the game at hand. This would include rivals or upcoming games. For example, if he’s calling a Florida Gators game, at some point he has to mention Kentucky. I wouldn’t count that one. When you’re done, get back to me.
Two, Christian Laettner. Duke’s best player stomped on Kentucky’s prone, helpless Aminu Timberlake in the 1992 NCAA tournament. Laettner was unrepentant. Krzyzewski didn’t punish him. If this is why you decided to dislike Duke, frankly, I can’t blame you. Then again, that was 18 years ago.
Now this would almost be funny if it weren’t for the fact it has gotten so much traction and haters reference it so often. (Quick note: When trying to pick a name for this blog, my original name was “Laettner’s Stomping Ground.”)
If you didn’t know better, you would think that Laettner was Ed Norton going all “American History X” on Timberlake. Of course, if you took the five seconds to find the clip on You Tube, you’ll know that “the stomp” wasn’t…you know what, I’ll let you see for yourself:
Seriously, Doyel? That is what you’ve been screaming about all these years? What Laettner did was cheap and stupid. He was called for a technical, as he should have been. But to act like THAT was some kind of vicious attack on a “helpless” player, give me a break. The second after Laettner got the technical, Timberlake was up, smiling and clapping.
To act like Coach K should have “punished” Laettner for that is ridiculous. No coach in America would have punished or suspended a player for that. None. Zero. Nada. And something tells me you wouldn’t be bringing it up if it wasn’t Duke/Laettner/Coach K.
I’ll do Gregg a favor and show him what kind of “stomp” should get a player suspended.
That’s a stomp.
Now I’m going to talk a little more about this later, but I want to move on to Doyel’s third reason for hating Duke.
Three, Duke’s repeat. Duke went from losing every year in the Final Four to winning titles in 1991 and ‘92. By 1992, Duke’s hapless stretch from 1988-90 had been recast into a dominant stretch of five consecutive Final Four appearances, capped by two titles. Duke wasn’t the Minnesota Vikings. Duke was the Dallas Cowboys. And most people hate the Cowboys.
Finally, he puts that nail directly on the head.
For the younger generation, it may be hard to believe this, but Duke use to suck. In fact, when I lived in Durham as a kid, they sucked bad. That was back in Coach Krzyzewski’s first season and I had no idea how to spell or pronounce his name.
Back then, living in Durham, I fell in love with Duke partly because they were the local team (five-minute ride from my parent’s apartment on my BMX), but also because they were the underdogs. The Devils got no love at that time, especially from the local newspapers and sports broadcasters. Everything was North Carolina and North Carolina State and that other school, Duke.
Being a Duke fan, I was rooting for the underdog. And later when Duke got better, the nation felt just like me. As