Dixon is the dream candidate at N.C. State, I'm told, and for good reason. He's terrific and one of the nation's very best coaches, and if I were an athletic director I would want to hire him, too. That said, know this: Dixon isn't leaving Pittsburgh for N.C. State. It will never happen. But let's assume, for the sake of the column, that he would. What that would mean is that N.C. State managed to hire a guy who has over the past five seasons gone to five NCAA tournaments and finished third on average in the Big East without ever winning a Big East regular-season title or making a Final Four. Sendek, for those who don't remember, made five NCAA tournaments in his final five seasons at N.C. State and finished fourth on average in the ACC without ever winning an ACC regular-season title or making a Final Four, point being that the bottom line on Dixon's past five seasons at Pittsburgh isn't significantly different than the bottom line on Sendek's final five seasons at N.C. State.
Am I suggesting Sendek is as good as Dixon?
Dixon has been better, is better and will be better going forward.
All I'm saying is that Dixon's past five seasons at Pittsburgh are a lot closer to Sendek's final five seasons at N.C. State than they are Krzyzewski's past five seasons at Duke (two ACC regular-season titles, a national championship) or Williams' past five seasons at North Carolina (three ACC regular-season titles, one national championship).
The blessing for Dixon, though, is that Pitt fans aren't consumed with Duke and North Carolina like N.C. State fans are consumed with Duke and North Carolina. So he's awesome and Sendek was a bum, and this is the incredible environment that has been created by a fan base whose school hasn't been to a Final Four since 1983.
Okay, one last couple hundred words. I'm going to leave this on the right rail since I'm sure you're all beyond tired of this topic. But I can't help myself here, because it's a great example of how we are unfairly smacked in the junk by national media members who gloss over the details.
Parrish's facts are not wrong. By that bottom line, narrow view, Sendek's and Dixon's respective last five years are pretty similar. The problem is the leap to the conclusion that supports his narrative: if the results are about the same, then the difference in the treatment of those coaches must lie in the difference between the fan bases. Or: the Spectre Of Duke And Carolina Which Creeps In The Shadows And Makes Us All Insane. (I just got an idea for a screenplay.)
This is a disingenuous spin job based on a few obfuscating big-picture facts culled from an arbitrarily assigned time period. By only looking at the last five years, Parrish is able to ignore the regular season title Dixon won in 2004, for instance. By ignoring Dixon's first two years, Parrish can also pretend those seasons didn't have any impact on Dixon's reputation within the Pittsburgh fan base as it exists today. Handy!
But whatever. I'll stick to the five years in question.
The difference in treatment between the two coaches is not about the Duke/Carolina Factor. The difference is in the route to those bottom line results. Take a look at these numbers and tell me that "Dixon's past five seasons at Pittsburgh are a lot closer to Sendek's final five seasons at N.C. State than they are Krzyzewski's past five seasons at Duke or Williams' past five seasons at North Carolina." Dixon's Pittsburgh teams have significantly out-performed Sendek's teams over the five years in question, and his win percentage is much, much closer to K's and Roy's than it is to Herb's.
If Herb had won at the same rate in ACC play as Dixon did in Big East play, he would have averaged 11 wins per season. I'd say that would've changed the atmosphere quite a bit. In those five years, Dixon never failed to win at least 10 conference games, and his team was never on the bubble, never needed a win or two in the conference tournament to cement an NCAA bid. The difference in average seed is substantial. These numbers are essential in understanding why Dixon is celebrated and why Herb was considered, in Parrish's words, a bum. And it's as simple as this. We are not uniquely nuts. The bottom line facts barely offer a nod at the real root of the difference. Parrish's lone, passing reference to the details is his admission that Dixon "has been better, is better," etc. No time to stop there on the way to Stupidtown.
You give me a team with Pitt's win-loss record under Dixon and I'm gonna be thrilled. I could give a shit about what Duke and Carolina are doing.