I know this may be old news to some of you. I’ve been meaning to post about it since the story came out, but I’m just getting around to it.
What I’m talking about is Andy Katz’s article from a couple Fridays ago about TV’s influence on ACC schedules.
It’s something I didn’t know and it’s actually pretty interesting. Once the ACC figures out the schedule, not the dates but who’s playing whom, the various television partners bid on the games. It’s like a draft, where the UNC-Duke games go first every year. The networks pick and choose in some order (probably stipulated in their contracts) and that’s how the schedule is built.
The end result of this is that certain less desirable games, Duke-Clemson is the example they pick, end up early in the season when ratings are naturally lower and bigger games come later when fans are tuned to college hoops. That’s why Clemson has opened with Duke four years in a row and Duke and Carolina always play the last game of the season.
Oliver Purnell thinks this is unfair.
“I raised it at the meetings and I raised it with my athletic director the other day,” Purnell said. “I understand the importance of the ratings but at the same time there needs to be some equitable competitiveness as well.”
And surprise, surprise, Gary Williams has a problem with it too:
“I’m glad Fred [Barakat] said that because I’ve been in the league for 16 years and I know they do that,” Williams said of giving the Duke-UNC games preferred treatment. “The year after we won the national title, Duke-Carolina was still the ultimate game. It’s always the last ACC game. It makes every other team in the league look secondary. That’s what I object to. Whoever is good should get the publicity. “
Waaa, waaa, waaa. What a bunch of crap.
First, Coach Purnell, what kind of message are you sending your team and your program? That you will always lose to Duke? That’s a great attitude. What difference does it make if you play them first or last? Do you know before the season starts who will or won’t be injured at different times of the year? Do you know that your team will improve more or less than Duke over the course of the season? No, you don’t. You’re just whining and blaming someone else for your failures.
Same with you, Gary. I know you like to play up the “woe is me” angle and blame all of Maryland’s troubles (real or imagined) on the evil North Carolina schools, but it’s really tiresome. Again, who cares when you play Duke?
They argue that it’s unfair that Duke gets the “easy” games first, but on the flip side, is it fair that Duke has to play Wake, G Tech and Carolina in consecutive games? Would you rather lose a bunch of games early or late? Do you really know which game are “easy?”
And then there’s Gary’s notion that it’s somehow unfair that Duke and Carolina is the game that everyone wants to see, as if that’s the choice of the teams involved. He argues that the league should pump the top two teams each year (as if UNC-Wake didn’t get attention this year and Duke-Maryland didn’t several years ago). His quote was “there’s nobody better than Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and North Carolina this year. They’re the top three.” Really? Is that right Gary?
You see the problem here? When Coach Williams said that, he might have been right, but less than two weeks later, he’s dead wrong. Duke is #2 in the country. You just can’t predict who will be strongest, so it makes sense to play up the established rivalries. The TV networks have no particular marriage to the Duke-UNC game. They want whatever games will get the most viewers, and nowhere near as many viewers want to see a Wake Forest-Maryland game.
So, in the end, this is all just complaining for complaining sake. Duke gets no benefit from this schedule and Clemson and Maryland suffer no harm. I think some coaches just have a reflexive tic whenever they hear the words “choice” and “Duke” in the same sentence. Shut up and coach and maybe you’ll find that the networks want you next year.