Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Duke Sucks

The title echoes a popular cliche - but one I agree with.

Duke was unranked for the first time since '96, and guess what? They were on national TV tonight. And who was one of the announcers? None other than the gas-bag Dick Vitale. Dick, your shtick was cool for about an hour back in the 90's.... but give us some relevant information. In today's broadcast, he said that a kid wasn't just a "Triple S" ( which is Vitale speak for sensational, spectacular, and scintillating ), but that he was also a "Triple D". Vitale did explain on air what the 3S's are, but never mentioned what the 3D's are. I'm thinking it's class grades, but maybe Vitale shouldn't have left it up to me to decide.

But anyway, fuck Duke. They're in my category of teams I don't like. Duke basketball, FSU football, the Yankees, the Cowboys, the Lakers, the Travelling Circus...... okay so that last one doesn't quite fit this group. There were teams that were winning when I started following sports that just won all the time, and I just began to root for them to lose. Not only would they win, but they hardly ever showed emotion when they did. Winning was robotic for them ( which I understand is a landmark that every program in the world shoots for ) - but it wasn't fun to watch.

So I began to dislike them. Eventually the teams fall upon hard times ( well, hard times for them. There were many years when the Badgers could only DREAM of going 8-3 like FSU would. ) FSU is finally hitting the downslope, despite stellar recruiting classes every year. Parity in the NFL killed the Dallas dynasty. It apparently killed Jerry Jones, but I don't think anyone in the state of Texas has noticed yet. Can we get him another face lift??? Anyone?? The Yankees decided to never play hard in the playoffs.

But Duke basketball never seemed to waiver. But they finally did this year. They lost four straight at one point. I finally decided to accept that this was not the Duke of old when I saw them go absolutely bat-shit crazy on the bench after they came back from a 10 pt second half deficit a few weeks ago. If this was the Duke of old, they would have expected to overcome the margin, and walk away with a win. This group looked like they couldn't believe they pulled it off. Even the coach, Coach K ( I'm not going to try to spell his name, and I'm too lazy to look up the spelling. But it's pronounced Sh-Chef-Ski. And it starts with a "K", and there's like 3 "Y"s in the name ) was jumping around with the players. Here's a guy that graduated from West Point, played under Bobby Knight, and coached under Knight, jumping around like a school girl.

Duke is on the ropes boys and girls. And I'm excited for the fall.

Of course, the sporting gods will spite me, and Duke will beat Wisconsin in the tourney, and maybe even win the damn thing. Fickle, the gods are.

One last note about Coach K. While I hate Duke, I respect him. Ted and I were at a NCAA football coaches clinic about 7 years ago in Chicago. We were only there for a day, and Coach K was actually a speaker at the conference. We weren't there to hear him speak, so I'm not exactly sure why he was at a football thing. Anyway, when we got there, we were checking in, and to the table to the left of us was Coach K and a bunch of NCAA admins. Ted is a huge Duke fan, so he couldn't help himself, and he introduced me and himself to Coach K. A handshake, a nice to meet you, and we were on our way.

Fast forward about 8 hours, and Ted and I are going to leave. We get off the elevator, and Coach K gets in to go up to give his speech. This time Ted doesn't say anything, but Coach K pauses, and says, "Ted? Matt? Right? With Wisconsin?"

Ted says something to the effect of 'Yes sir, have a nice day' - and that was it. But it struck me on the drive home that he must have been in contact with over 500 people that day. Between reporters, coaches, assistant coaches, AD's, assistant AD's, SID's, support staff, auxiliary staff ( like Ted and myself ).... and he remembered our names from 9 in the morning. I found that to be pretty impressive. It says a lot about the position he's been able to achieve, and how he got Duke to where they are.

So while he's the reason that Duke is where they are, and I hate the program, I don't hate him. A paradox for sure, but still, Duke sucks.


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