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YouTube Gold: When Coach K Was Introduced As Duke’s New Head Coach

The video shows a young Coach K but also hints at just how much has changed around Duke

Mike Krzyzewski Fields Questions After Being Named Head Coach at Duke
Mike Krzyzewski Fields Questions After Being Named Head Coach at Duke

March 18th, 1980 was a long time ago. Ronald Reagan was still in office. Scratch that - Jimmy Carter was still in office. John Lennon was still alive. Pope John Paul II was two years into his historic papacy. The Miracle on Ice had happened in Lake Placid in February.

And Mike Krzyzewski was being introduced as Duke’s new head coach.

It wasn’t a popular decision.

Bill Foster had taken Duke to the 1978 title game and to the Elite Eight just a few weeks before Coach K was introduced.

It was clear though that he had become unhappy at Duke and widely understood that he would, in a major miscalculation, take the South Carolina job.

So when A.D. Tom Butters, after an extensive if autocratic search, settled on Krzyzewski, people were dumbfounded. The Duke Chronicle’s headline was something like “This Is Not A Joke.” And many people were quick to point out that he came to Duke after at 9-17 season at Army.

But Butters knew what he was doing. He had talked to Bob Knight, who vigorously recommended Krzyzewski (“he has all of my good qualities and none of my bad”) and when he asked Virginia coach Terry Holland for his opinion, Holland said it would be a brilliant move.

So on March 18, Butters introduced Coach K to the world.

A lot has changed since then.

For one, he’s not buying suits off the rack these days which he clearly did when Duke started him off at $40,000 a year.

For another, check out the intimacy of the room. Butters is just sitting behind him in a chair. We can’t tell for sure because the video is a bit grainy, but we’re pretty sure that the reporter leaning against the door frame is the late Al Featherston.

But listen to what he says. Now of course we know what to expect. In 1980 though, he was unknown and a bit nervous. It’s hard to believe where his journey took him and us.