“Last night, the Duke Blue Devils, currently ranked a unanimous #1 in all legitimate polls, lost to unranked Florida State in Tallahassee. In honor of that loss, I present to you the reasons why most of the civilized world, except Duke fans themselves, hates Duke.
Conflict of Interest Disclaimer: I am a Tar Heel. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, so Duke hatred runs deep in my veins. It was tradition at the beginning of each basketball season for the student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, to publish an old column entitled, “Why I Hate Duke.” I have to admit that now my student status has changed to “alum,” my bone-deep hate of all things Blue Devil has moderated a bit, and I should further admit that one of my closest friends attended Duke – and that we were friends for all four years. Gasp.
That said, there are some good reasons for the vitriol between these two schools, and between Duke and the rest of the country as a whole. Some are legitimate, some are questionable, and some are a crock of Charlie Weis. Some have everything to do with basketball and some deal only with the institution of Duke University itself. There have been entire books written on this subject, so I will only hope to summarize some of the more salient points.
Dook Hate: “Those bunch of Beamer-driving private-school New Jersey kids wouldn’t know a 5-second violation if it hit them in the face.”
Translation: Duke University is an elite private institution. Admission to Duke University is highly competitive, yet for some reason it seems to attract a disproportionate percentage of students from New Jersey and New York. Duke has some oddities in this regard – it continues to be more popular in New York and the surrounding tri-state area, a fact exploited by their frequent scheduling of Madison Square Garden for “road” games.
Tuition is also fairly expensive at Duke, financial aid packages notwithstanding. Part of the reason UNC and Duke have such a fierce rivalry born of geography is this: Duke and UNC sit 8 miles apart, yet their student bodies could not be more different. While Duke is elite, private, expensive, and “Yankee,” UNC’s incoming freshman classes are required to be 82% North Carolina residents, with only 18% of spots reserved for out-of-staters. Duke’s tuition – just classes – is more than $40,000 annually, while the entire cost of an in-state tuition at Carolina costs $4,000 (out of state is still cheap at $23,000 a year). UNC’s motto (“the University of the People”) is geared toward service and giving back to the community; Duke feels out of place to the local Durham community.
Prior to attending Duke, many students may have a limited concept of the finer points of basketball.
Dook Hate: “Duke flops.”
Translation: For the uninitiated, flopping is when a defender makes contact with a player on the opposing team, then theatrically falls to the ground in an attempt to convince the referee to call a charge. Now, let’s be clear: all basketball coaches teach flopping to some degree. However, Duke coaches seem to place a particular emphasis on attempting to draw charges to the point of method acting. There are literally pages upon pages of YouTube videos of different Duke players flopping.
Duke defenders will often charge that this is simply a case of selection bias, that the overwhelming anti-Duke sentiment nationally makes people pick out flops more often than when other teams do it. This is possibly true, but it’s circular: people hate Duke in part for flopping, which makes them seek clips of them flopping. Unfortunately for Duke fans, these clips are very, very easy to find.
Dook Hate: “Wojo.”
Translation: Duke’s big man coach is a 5’11” former Duke point guard named Steve Wojciechowski. This bears repeating: Wojo, as he is affectionately/derisively called, is less than six feet tall, is the coach of Duke’s power forwards and centers. This naturally raises the question, “What does a former point guard know about coaching big men?” The answer, as best I can tell, is “nothing.” Normally this is a point of hilarity for opposing fans; however, Duke’s recent success has inspired a new wave of anti-Wojo sentiment. Wojo’s primary function on the Duke bench appears to be motivation; he is often spotted slapping the floor and serves as Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s personal ball-washer at halftime.
Not basketballs, by the way.
Okay, let’s be honest. Even though Duke won the championship last year, it was always funny to see Wojo coaching 7-footer Brian “4 fouls and 5 points” Zoubek every game. And people wonder why Duke relies so heavily on the three-pointer.
Speaking of which…
Dook Hate: “They ruin basketball, because all they do is shoot three-pointers.”
Translation: People really, really hated J.J. Reddick. It pains me to say this, but Reddick is having himself a nice career with the Orlando Magic.
Dook Hate: “Coach K as the leader of men.”
Translation: Coach K, widely acknowledged as one of the best coaches in the game, appeared in a series of commercials for American Express. He touted himself as a “leader of men,” an assertion that rang hollow for a number of anti-Duke basketball fans. This assertion, which connotates, I don’t know, chivalry of some sort, flies in the face of Coach K’s on-the-court behavior. He often berates referees, dropping F-bombs and swearing left and right when a call does not go his way. Coach K holds an insanely expensive basketball camp for rich people, which doubles as a seminar on leadership.
Dook Hates “Road games… aren’t.”
Translation: Duke rarely, if ever, schedules a true road non-conference game. Coach K prefers to play teams at “neutral” sites, usually at pro-Duke Madison Square Garden or nearby Greensboro Coliseum. Duke will also participate in some pre-season tournaments, provided those tournaments have finals at the Garden. This avoidance of true road games contributes to Duke’s often-inflated record before the beginning of conference play.
Dook Hate: “”Dick Vitale just slurps on Duke.”
Translation: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Dick Vitale could be calling a game for Valparaiso-Idaho St., and still manage to work in a few complimentary lines about how the “awesome diaper dandies” are playing at “DUKE, baby!”
In sum, the nation hates Duke not because they win, although that plays an amplifying role – if Duke played like Weber St, it’s likely no one would care how many AmEx commercials Coach K films. The nation hates Duke because their program is full of self-important jerks who thrive off questionable tactics while employing an amazingly arrogant “leader of men.”
Follow the author, Nate Friedman, on Twitter at @nate_488.”