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The Debate: UNC Basketball All-Access on the ACC Network

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Is having a camera crew documenting the upcoming season a good or bad idea?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Charlotte Practice Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Joe has the week off, so I’m handling his regular debate column. You know the deal. We pick a topic and look at both sides of the issue. This week’s topic is the recently announced program, All-Access: A Season with Carolina Basketball. The program is slated to be part of the ACC Network and will begin airing in October. Let’s get to it.

Point: Allowing behind the scenes access is way overdue for one of the premier basketball programs and necessary to stay competitive in today’s recruiting environment.

Most fans will rejoice at the prospect of getting additional looks at their favorite program. The ACC Network needs eyeballs on screens. People need a reason to ask their cable companies to carry the newest extension of the ESPN family. So sure, this was done for the fans and for business.

Just don’t be naïve. This wasn’t completely done out of the goodness of Roy Williams and Bubba Cunningham’s heart to help the league’s finances. This was done to stay abreast of the competition in recruiting. Everything else is just fortunate circumstances.

Most people are aware of the insane amount of publicity that recruits generate on social media. In that regard, UNC has improved their efforts in the last 18 months. The next step is providing a platform for players to gain increased exposure. Was last year’s over-the-top coverage of Duke a tipping point in overexposure of unproven talent? Or was it the beginning of a newer trend that only a handful of programs are capable of entertaining? Whatever the answer, North Carolina is not going to get left behind.

A year after striking out on numerous top prospects and with only one commitment for 2020, it’s clear the Heels’ coaching staff have had to tweak their recruiting philosophy. The NCAA cloud that impacted recruiting for the better part of a decade is no longer an excuse. The recruiting landscape has changed.

Being on television twice a week is not the advantage it once was. Additional exposure is crucial for top-tier athletes so they can build a personal brand before going pro. Allowing an all-access camera crew into the program is arguably one of the boldest statements Roy Williams can make. North Carolina may revere tradition and family, but they aren’t above adapting to the current entertainment environment.

Counterpoint: North Carolina doesn’t need its own show to sell the program or the ACC. They’re doing just fine. Always have. Always will.

One thing that alumni and fans love about North Carolina is the unique atmosphere. You’re part of something different at UNC. You can feel it walking down Franklin Street, sitting in the Dean Dome, or walking among the trees outside Kenan. Tradition. Family. Culture. It just oozes throughout Chapel Hill.

That has carried over to the basketball program, which has a long and lengthy history of being slightly mysterious mixed with just the right amount of public interaction. UNC’s coaching staffs have been notoriously closed off with the program ever since Dean Smith was at the helm. Smith once told author John Feinstein that he wouldn’t even let the President in his locker room. Nothing much changed through Bill Guthridge, Matt Doherty, and Roy Williams. It’s just how the Heels have always done business, and business, as they say, has been booming.

Along the way, the Heels have wracked up 2,261 wins (third all-time), 65 combined ACC regular season and tournament titles, 20 Final Fours, and six NCAA tournament championships. The most recent title was just 27 months ago! Since that game, the Heels earned a #2 and #1 seed, had four players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft, and won 4 out of 6 against Duke.

Why mess with a philosophy and culture that has been so successful? Why let strangers into your living room? Duke tried it last year and failed to even make a Final Four despite having three of the top-10 picks in last month’s draft. Stepping away from basketball, the NFL has produced 13 seasons of its famous Hard Knocks series, and just five teams have even made the playoffs the following season.

Yo. If something ain’t broke, don’t go and break it.

So what do you think? Is the all-access look at the UNC program a good idea? Bad idea? Maybe a little bit of both? Leave your thoughts on the topic in the comment section. If you have any issues with anything that was said, Joe will be back next week to handle any complaints that I caused.