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Coach K vs. Obama

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From NBC's Domenico Montanaro

You knew that President Obama picking UNC as the champs and Duke out in the Elite Eight was going to stir the Tobacco Road hornet's nest.

But who knew that Coach K himself would weigh in?

"Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told the Associated Press.

Zing.

But maybe it's not surprising that Krzyzewski took his shot at this president.

After all, not only did Dean Smith, the original Carolina coaching legend, endorse Obama during the 2008 campaign (Coach K did not), but Kryzeweski landed in hot water in 2002 for hosting an on-campus fund-raiser for Republican Elizabeth Dole, then a candidate for U.S. Senate. (Dole was ousted in 2008 by now-Sen. Kay Hagan.)

*** UPDATE *** The president has responded: "I didn't pick him to go to the finals," Obama told liberal radio host Ed Schultz. "Look, he's a competitive guy, I just don't think they've got the inside game to go all the way." (Hat tip: Jonathan Martin.)

[/excerpt]

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro

You knew that President Obama picking UNC as the champs and Duke out in the Elite Eight was going to stir the Tobacco Road hornet's nest.

But who knew that Coach K himself would weigh in?

"Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told the Associated Press.

Zing.

But maybe it's not surprising that Krzyzewski took his shot at this president.

After all, not only did Dean Smith, the original Carolina coaching legend, endorse Obama during the 2008 campaign (Coach K did not), but Kryzeweski landed in hot water in 2002 for hosting an on-campus fund-raiser for Republican Elizabeth Dole, then a candidate for U.S. Senate. (Dole was ousted in 2008 by now-Sen. Kay Hagan.)

"It wasn't as if the coach with the nasally voice of a man in need of Nyquil shouted 'Blue Devils for Dole!' in his locker room, but Krzyzewski's public politics have left his character tobacco-stained in North Carolina," sports columnist Selena Roberts wrote Nov. 3, 2002 in the New York Times. "Somehow, Saint Mike became the target of language reserved for attack ads after he dared to throw his Dookie-ness behind Dole in a tighter-than-expected United States Senate race."

She added, "Had Coach K dipped into a private university list? Had he created a tacit university endorsement by his association? The issue caused a stir from Asheville to Kitty Hawk. Even the Duke newspaper, The Chronicle, criticized the unsavory appearance of Krzyzewski's role in the reception. It was like being heckled by his own Cameron Crazies. ... Suddenly, Coach Klean had been sullied, as if his halo had been made of nothing more than tinfoil and pipe cleaners."

And it's not the first time Coach K and Smith have been linked in political controversy.

Krzyzewski "should have known the consequences of stepping into Dean Smith's sandbox," Roberts wrote. "Krzyzewski is a Durham legend, but Smith is a Carolina icon. And in a state where basketball and politics commingle as religions, Smith owns both pulpits. Some suspect that Krzyzewski came to Dole's side after Smith attached his name to Erskine Bowles, the Democrat in the Senate race. But if Smith can support Ichabod Crane in pinstripes, why can't Krzyzewski aid Scarlett in a power suit? The good folks from the University of North Carolina -- home of the Dean Dome -- point out a major difference: Smith retired from coaching five years ago."

*** UPDATE *** The president has responded: "I didn't pick him to go to the finals," Obama told liberal radio host Ed Schultz. "Look, he's a competitive guy, I just don't think they've got the inside game to go all the way." (Hat tip: Jonathan Martin.)