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Gottlieb Loses It

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To a certain extent, Duke fans have learned to live with what we've come to call Duke hating, so it's no big surprise when somebody like Jason Whitlock, Pat Forde, Mark Bradley or John Feinstein (sorry to say) takes a cheap shot. Still, even by those standards, Doug Gottlieb's comments Thursday on the Mike and Mike show about Coach K were really off the deep end.

If you missed it, and were guessing most people did, Gottlieb introduced a new phrase: the Krzyzewski Effect.

According to Gottlieb, Krzyzewski's influence has grown to the point where doesn't simply intimidate officials but can theoretically pick up the phone and select the ones he wants or doesn't want. It is theoretical because Gottlieb cannot possibly substantiate his argument. In fact is not an argument, but a simple prejudice, a fancy.

Here's a partial transcript of Thursday's program which is probably poorly done but we did the best we could in limited time. We'll have some comments below. Also, Jim Boeheim was a scheduled guest and had a very pointed reaction to Gottlieb's comments which we also include.

Gottlieb: "This team he has now is a brutally physical team on the boards and by complaining and riding the getting it to be called in a way that's more benefits his team and there's a sense that he intimidates the officials and that ends up helping his team."

Mike: "Having gone to Northwestern and having listened to Bob Knight, Gene Keady... and Gary Williams... they all rode the officials...they spent more time talking to the officials than they did their own players... by a margin of 5-1 they spent more time talking to the officials and they did to their own players... was Bob Knight one of those guys? Yes. But was it noticeably more than the other guys? No. in fact, Gary Williams was unbelievable...I couldn't [quote what] he said because it was the most profane -- he is the most profane person I've ever heard in my entire are you telling me that Krzyzewski and Knight do it more than the other coaches?"

Gottlieb: "No, I think it's more effective when he does it...because of who he is... and because I think he's really very smart about it and that for this particular team he wants them to let them play because his team is massive... Brian Zoubek is the starting center and he's a legit 7-1 center. He brings in the Plumlee boys They're 6-10. He brings in Lance Thomas, who's only 6-8 and not a great athlete but who has an unbelievable motor...and then you have Kyle Singler, a 6-7 wing who's...really kind of a hybrid post/wing learning to play on the perimeter. He has a very big team, a very physically strong team. They way they've won on the offensive boards...and I know from a coach that was on the sidelines during the NCAA Tournament that he is on the officials about letting them play and for whatever reason, whether it's Krzyzewski or Duke, because he's the coach of team USA, whatever it is, his riding the official seems to have a greater effect. Doesn't mean the officials are cheating the other team, but it does seem to help the officials called the game in a fashion in which the game is more physical which benefits his team.

Mike: "Yeah, but I think all coaches do that..."

Gottlieb: "There is a sense that... at the end of the year when you talk to the monitor of officials -- remember, these guys move on, these guys get paid... a part of it is it's an honor but a part of his you get paid more money... you get graded out based on how you officiate again in the NCAA tournament. And generally NCAA tournament games are officiated much more tightly because they want them to be technically proficient officials. So if you're in the second round your only way to get to the sweet 16 is if you grade out correctly and I think the prevailing thought is that Krzyzewski picks up the phone and says who is this joker officiating my game? This guy is a joke, don't put them on the sweet 16 he doesn't belong.

"Or is Krzyzewski going to say that's a guy I want, that's a guy who should be officiating team USA exhibition games. That's a guy who we think is a quality official.

"Let's look at the coaches he coached against. Mike Montgomery pretty good name... Scott Drew or Mike Krzyzewski? Whose name carries more weight for those officials to move up in the world for those officials to officiate higher level games in the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament? So I do think part of it is he would [whip] other coaches and other fan bases into a frenzy where they think they're automatically going to get screwed whether they do or they don't. It's about like when you walk into a game on the road and you think we're not going to get any calls and you end up playing more tentative. I get that.

"But part of it is he is a powerful man and if you watch the officials...the games do tend to be officiated in a much more physical fashion when his team is playing."

Mike: "Very interesting thought, if there are people buying into it, fine, I think to a certain extent I will by certainly [agreeing that] he's a star and stars get calls and officials might treat him a little differently than they treat other high-profile guys...but if they're really doing it because they're concerned he's going to pick up the phone and say something, now you have a problem...that's a big difference from having sort of stars in your eyes.

Boeheim: "Butler is the most physical team we played all year other than probably Pittsburgh and West Virginia and I was listening to your conversation earlier... nobody's more physical than Butler and Brad Stephens is a tremendous coach, but he didn't get any calls because his team was more physical and he was talking about it...I think the thing with officials is, you know these guys work 100 games a year, they listen to us 100 games some of them have had 2000 games, you really don't affect the officials that much. We're all yelling at them were all talking to them... it's funny they used to say Dean Smith got the calls than Bob Knight Mike Krzyzewski... John Thompson... but it doesn't work that way. These guys don't care who wins. Like I said Butler's the most physical team we playedall year and they never gotten a penalty in the second half until the last play of the game. They just physical, they know how to be physical they probably one of the best defensive teams that we've played against in the long time and it's not because Brad Stevens is yelling at the officials by any stretch of imagination."


Just to be sure we understand this correctly: Duke has gone from being "alarmingly unathletic," to recall his earlier description, to winning because they are now overwhelmingly physical -- but only because Krzyzewski picks up the phone and handpicks officials who let Duke play that way. Is that correct?

This is ludicrous, as Jim Boheim went out of his way to point out.

But more to the point, if a member of the media is going to say something this outrageous, this inflammatory, this slanderous, shouldn't he at some level be held to account? Who explained the "prevailing thought" about Duke? Who specifically believes that he can dictate the choice of officials?

And let's also raise this question, to pose meme against meme: just last spring, the meme was that Coach K had lost his mojo (ask John Feinstein, who is fond of arguing that Coach K has embraced the national team at the expense of Duke) and that Duke wasn't a significant factor anymore.

Alarmingly unathletic if you insist.

Now, we are to believe that Coach K is so powerful that he can dictate his own choices officials by -- now think carefully about this -- offering them summer work officiating exhibition games for the national team.

What kind of logic is that? Since when do you provide incentives to officials by offering them exhibition work at any level?

We have no idea what kind of a person Doug Gottlieb is, but for whatever reason, he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to Duke.

In general, most of us, meaning Duke fans, have learned to deal with this sort of thing and can take a sort of perverse pride in being the focus of attention. That's fine.

But what he's promoting here, with a list of unnamed people in his hand much like Sen. Joseph McCarthy back in the day, is ludicrous and cannot be substantiated.

We challenge him to put up or shut up, and his employers at ESPN should make it clear to him that if he wishes to make accusations or allegations, he should be able to document them. Sliming somebody this way, with anonymous sources, vague suggestions of behind the scenes power manipulation, supported by nothing more than wishful thinking, should be unacceptable at a media corporation. That it's not, that ESPN has not publicly rebuked him, is unfortunate.

As an intellectual exercise, try this: where he talks about Coach K and Duke, substitute the words Jewish and Zionist. The pseudo-argument Gottlieb produces bears a lot in common with classic anti-Semitic smears. We're quite sure he would disagree, but switch the terms out and see what you think. The arguments are structured very similarly.

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