It's been nine days now since the Virginia Tech Hokies fired head coach Seth Greenberg, an event that struck many observers as odd. After all, Greenberg had arguably achieved respectable results in a locale that's not exactly a hoops mecca. And, anyway, why fire a coach a full six weeks after his team's season has ended?
The timing of the Hokies' announcement was indeed unusual, and clearly the whole process could have been handled better. (Virginia Tech announced that a news conference would be held late that afternoon without first telling Greenberg what would take place at said event, leaving the coach completely in the dark as his phone blew up with calls from writers.) That being said, the actual impact of the unusual timing on Tech's ensuing search for a new coach (the Hokies have since hired James Johnson) was probably overstated. We have seen time and time again that very good coaches can be hired at very strange times. Thad Matta, to take one example, was hired by Ohio State in July of 2004, and I dare say he's panned out pretty well.
No, what I found interesting about last week's news out of Blacksburg wasn't its timing, but rather the way it fit seamlessly into a larger ACC pattern. Together, the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels have won a higher percentage of their conference games (76.9) in the past five seasons than any other pair of major-conference programs. Not surprisingly, that level of success has clearly had an impact on the other 10 programs in the league. Conference wins are a zero-sum proposition. And if college basketball performance were subject to the dictates of antitrust law, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels would be found guilty of restraint of trade.