Glenn Clark: With Mike Krzyzewski Gone, Is The Era Of Hating Duke Basketball Completely Over?

Sometimes I forget that not everyone who reads this column or listens to Glenn Clark Radio or listens to my new show on 105.7 The Fan has been with me long enough to know my entire story.

I’m much like the majority of you. I was born and raised here and I loved sports. Growing up, I was a massive Orioles and Maryland fan. The Ravens arrived when I was in middle school, and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with them. I have always loved and supported the other college sports teams in the area, whether I had a direct association with them or not.

Being part of this industry for what is now inching closer to two full decades required me to reconsider my “fandom” a bit because my job requires criticism. It’s a fine line. Only you all can judge whether I handle it appropriately.

Because the job at times requires me to bridle my fandom, I have long been associated with a different aspect of sports fandom. A significant part of my sports media personality has been the pure, completely unbroken joy I have received from rooting like hell against (or “hating,” if you will) Duke men’s basketball.

Since we don’t “cover” Duke basketball in any way here, it has been a perfect lane for me! I have to “cover” Maryland basketball. So I have to be careful about how much of my fandom seeps out into my coverage. But Maryland fans all “hate” Duke!

And throughout the last decade-plus, the majority of country seemed to join the “Duke hate” train. It gave us more interest in college basketball season, as we could both root for our respective teams and also root like hell against another team every time it played. At a time when Americans agreed on so little and had been so badly driven apart, this common bond united us.

Has it been childish? Sure, to some extent it has. Most of it has been playful. Everyone knows how successful Duke basketball has been during the past 40 years. But Duke has also put off a Yankees-esque aura of bathing in its own significance that has inspired the hate. And no one brought that on more so than head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who so regularly displayed his Hall of Fame smugness right alongside his Hall of Fame coaching.

So when Duke basketball lost to North Carolina in this year’s Final Four, bringing an end to Krzyzewski’s career, I received an interesting message from a friend and longtime listener named Eric Mueller.

“Duke, and maybe more importantly to you, Coach K lost. Your life is complete. It is now time to give up on your hate. Still root against Duke, hope they lose every game, but hopefully remove the utter joy you receive from hating a team so much.”

Eric (who I swear to you really is my friend) is a bit of a Duke fan, among his many rooting interests within sports. We’ve gone back and forth about this quite a bit throughout the years. And his text actually set off an alarm within my mind.

What does this look like moving forward? Ravens fans loathed Bill Cowher, but their hatred of the Steelers did not wane after his retirement. But it helps that so many players remained part of the rivalry and were easy targets for fans’ distaste.

College sports no longer allow for that. Relevant basketball rosters overturn completely in just a year or two (with the exception of Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon and Wisconsin’s Brad Davison, who I believe arrived in the Big Ten right around the same time Mike Krzyzewski took over at Duke). While there were players whose personalities helped fuel the hate throughout the years (namely JJ Redick and Grayson Allen), Krzyzewski became almost the singular face of the movement in recent years.

So with Krzyzewski gone, is the era of hating Duke now completely over? Has my joy been taken from me? Will I ever feel such gleeful exhilaration as I did while watching Krzyzewski embarrassingly try to belittle Dillon Brooks in a handshake line after getting his butt kicked by Oregon in the NCAA Tournament?

I think the answer is to be determined. It won’t disappear immediately. Old habits die hard. And Jon Scheyer will have to maintain at least a certain standard for Duke’s fan base to be as insufferable as it has been.

And in the meantime, farewell, “Coach K.” I have truly enjoyed so few things as I have rooting against you in my adulthood.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Duke Athletics

Issue 274: April/May 2022

Glenn Clark

See all posts by Glenn Clark. Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter at @glennclarkradio