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The Strange Fantasies of Rick Barnes Fans

The Duke Basketball Report had an aside in their coverage of Roy Williams' Crowd Management that might strike people not familiar with the ACC as odd:

A stray thought: UNC’s next game is at Texas (well in Texas anyway) against old nemesis Rick Barnes. Do you suppose there’s any chance he could yank UNC’s chain over this?

Normal people would be perplexed by this. Rick Barnes is a basketball coach. Basketball coaches speak entirely in, well, coachspeak. They'll mouth platitudes about their opponents, mumble some concerns, and then end the press conference. I can guarantee you Rick Barnes isn't going to discuss Roy Williams' actions in a game against Presbyterian. So Texas fans might be asking themselves, why would Duke bloggers think otherwise?

Well, fifteen years ago Rick Barnes got mad at Dean Smith.

The full story is here, but I can give you a quick rundown. It was the 1995 ACC Tournament and Jerry Stackhouse had just been fouled by Iker Iturbe. Smith yelled at Iturbe, Barnes yelled at Smith, and the two spent a timeout face-to-face having a spirited discussion on the finer points of the game. Both coaches were fined, and for the rest of Barnes' tenure the pregame coaches' handshake was covered with more cameras than your average presidential photo-op. Barnes was a hero to every ACC school outside of Chapel Hill, a love affair that continues to this day.

Said love affair leads to some strange behavior, most notably the abject lust for the man held by State Fans. The Wolfpackers always looked down on Herb Sendek, who had a poor record against UNC, preferring Barnes, who was a mighty 1-9 against the Heels. He said mean things about UNC, so naturally he's the best fit for a job leading fans that also hate UNC. Similarly, there's the Duke fan response linked above, with the faulty logic that since Barnes didn't like Dean Smith, and Duke fans don't like Dean Smith, they agree on everything. Ignore the fact that Barnes and Williams coached for a half a decade in the same conference without incident (Barnes was 1-4 against Williams, for the record) means nothing. They want to cut Williams down to size, so Barnes will want to cut Williams down to size. 

The UNC-Texas game will almost certainly pass without incident. One team will win, the other will lose, and the folks who hate Carolina will be thrilled or disappointed based on which team has the most points at the buzzer. But Rick Barnes is never going to be the disgruntled fan you want him to be. He has a job and a team to manage; he'll be focused on that.