Winning is the best marketing for ACC
Posted February 11, 2014
Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski typically uses media availability before the North Carolina game, press conferences required by the NCAA during the tournament and an annual summer check-in to explore issues beyond the day-to-day state of his Blue Devils. Monday was the first of such instances this season. When Krzyzewski wasn't talking about their rivalry with the Tar Heels, he spent a chunk of his time discussing hand-checking rules and taking the ACC to task for not marketing the conference properly.
"Our league is not promoted very well," said Krzyzewski. "We should figure out how the Big Ten does it. They’re really good, don’t get me wrong. They’re still saying it’s great, and they’re not saying anything about us."
Krzyzewski wasn't clear on who should be doing the promotion. Is it up to the coaches, the conference itself or their media partners? Nor did he explain what, exactly, the Big Ten was doing that made their marketing of the conference superior. Is it because they have a successful network?
"We have the No. 1 team in the country (Syracuse). We have Virginia, who is having a hell of a year," Krzyzewski continued. "I don’t know, I think ours matches up with anybody. We just have 15. That’s a lot. Someone is going to lose."
It's not the first time Krzyzewski spent a press conference lamenting the state of college basketball's visibility. Last March, he compared basketball and football to sodas when reminding everyone what founded the ACC in the first place.
"Diet Coke, they’re still trying to sell Coke. In other words, you have something that’s going good, try to keep it really going good and I don’t think we’ve had an emphasis in that," said Krzyzewski. "In the future, with the league that we will have, we need to really go after it and take a look at everything that we do because we will have the most powerful basketball conference."
The ACC does have the most powerful basketball conference in theory. Commissioner John Swofford boasted back in October that the ACC "may be strongest collection of basketball programs ever assembled." When all the accolades of the current members are stacked up, Swofford isn't wrong. The problem for the ACC is what they've done lately.
Krzyzewski was absolutely right when he stated teams have to lose in a bloated conference, but it's not good when the majority of the ACC can't get out of its own way.
The conference is coming off a four bid NCAA Tournament and hasn't been represented in the Final Four since Duke cut down the nets in 2010 (sorry, Syracuse and Louisville didn't count). The ACC is currently fifth in conference RPI. Outside the Blue Devils, up-tempo basketball is severely lacking. North Carolina and Pittsburgh are widely considered part of the ACC's NCAA Tournament contingent, yet the Tar Heels aren't in the polls due to head-scratching loses and Pittsburgh's best "win" this season is a loss at Syracuse.
Again, how is the ACC or ESPN supposed to market the whole conference when only a handful of teams are worth talking about at this point in the season? It's not like Swofford can reboot the Dixie Classic featuring the conference's best teams or have a best-of-seven series between Duke and Syracuse.
The ACC just hasn't been that good overall. When the conference fixes that nagging issue, everything will be in its right place.