Recruiting and The Obama Visit

Advantage or disadvantage?

At one point during the UNC scrimmage with Democract Senator Barack Obama, Roy Williams was hear saying:

“You’ve left the next president of the United States wide open…”

This rather positive statement led to a clarification from UNC stating that Roy was not endorsing Obama by referring to him as the next president nor was Roy endorsing anyone.

This leads to an interesting question.  Was the Obama visit a positive or negative for UNC, especially as it pertains to recruiting?  Regardless of your politics, you have to acknowledge that it was a positive for the players to meet someone running for President.  However, given the divisive nature of politics coupled with the strong feelings people have about their political allegiances you have to wonder if there was any impact at all in terms of recruiting?

It was suggested by commenters on other blogs that UNC and Roy could use this as part of the recruiting pitch and therefore the NCAA should have been more interested in what happened since it clearly affords UNC an advantage.  I tend to think of recruiting in simpler terms and believe there are four or five areas that really matter to a recruit, whether Obama or Hilary Clinton or John  McCain visited with the team would not be on the list.  In fact I would argue you stand more of a chance of alienating a player’s parents with something like this than you do attracting anyone.  This probably explains the clarification from UNC on Wednesday.

Roy Williams, in running the UNC basketball program, has a vested interest in being as neutral as possible in areas of politics.  Dean Smith took a different track on this and showed more of his political stripes while on the job at UNC but Roy strikes me as someone less inclined to be active in this arena.  His thinking on the topic might be similar to that of Michael Jordan who, when asked to advocate for Harvey Gantt in his bid to win the US senate seat in NC from Jesse Helms, replied, “Republicans buy sneakers too.” It also might be that Roy just does not care about politics.  However, he obviously thought it was important to make sure no one took what he said as an endorsement, just to avoid any misunderstandings.

In the end I doubt it matters.  Players and their parents care about a lot of things: playing time, role models, winning, prep for the NBA, etc.  I am sure there are a few out there who would not be as willing to Roy because he was hanging out with Obama.  However, it is not like Roy is suffering for recruits so I am pretty sure it does not matter.


30 Responses to Recruiting and The Obama Visit

  1. jackiemanuel says:

    I think playing ball with a man who is very popular with young people can’t hurt! If Coach K can endorse W, why can’t Roy endorse Obama? Some things are more important than endorsement cash.

  2. C. Michael says:

    I’m a fairly staunch Republican and this certainly doesn’t change my opinion on Roy or UNC.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I do not think many people will have their opinions changed. I did find it interesting that SFN for example had commenters who said it was an advantage for UNC to have Obama come in like this and the NCAA should have enforced the rules better. People often assume certain things matter in recruiting that actually have no bearing at all.

  4. 52BigGameJames says:

    I still like you nonetheless CM 😉

    seriously, in a CNN piece last night, Michelle Obama’s brother said that when Dad was scoping Barack as a potential future son-in-law, the Old Man suggested the brother take him out on the court and check him out. The senior’s opinion was you’ll get a good read on personality during a game of pick-up (which I would wholeheartedly agree with). Barack passed with flying colors. It’s easy to view events like this as opportunistic, and simply a publicity-grab, but be honest–who among us wouldn’t take advantage of an opportunity like this if we were true hoops fans?

    I’ve got a 15 year old daughter–might just have to file that trick away for a later date.

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:

    You know, if Roy had a press conference about the scrimmage this is what he would have said in response to a question about how well they defended Obama:

    “We were very good defensively. Obama missed some shorts he normally makes but by and large we did a good job”

  6. 52BigGameJames says:

    LOL–Roy for Prez!

  7. Jenny says:

    I’m a Republican elected official who is no fan of Obama’s, but I really can’t see how you could see him playing ball at UNC as anything other than totally cool- for him, for the players, and for potential recruits. Nothing but positive press for everyone involved.

  8. C. Michael says:

    Thanks, 52!

    How much do you want to bet Obama’s people pulled him aside and said, “Look, this could be a great opportunity, but DO NOT go any where near #50’s nose…”

  9. 52BigGameJames says:

    rofl-that would’ve been a gaffe of historic proportions! if he thought Jeremiah was bad…

  10. seth says:

    Maybe this has more of an impact than we think. Is it possible that all the big men that Duke has missed out on in recent years were turned off by the “Blue Devils for Dole” campaign?

  11. C. Michael says:

    I think it had more to do with, “This is our big man coach… WoJo!” 😉

  12. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Speaking of the Floor Slapper, did you see that Stanford called K to talk about Dawkins AND Wojo? There is no way Wojo was ever a serious candidate for that job.

  13. Leann says:

    Dean Smith is a staunch democrat and made no bones about advertising that fact. His stance on civil rights is well documented (and the right stance I might add). If Dean Smith’s political position didn’t hurt UNC in 36 years, I don’t think now is the time that a UNC head coach’s political position is going to affect things.

  14. DeanForever says:

    Sports and music…the great harmonizers of our race. Democrat or Republican, if you are a UNC fan, then you are first rate in my book either way…all of you.

    The Dean/Democrat and K/Republican co-existence in the ACC made for some extra flavor from the mid-80s to late-90s. Dean did some pretty ballsy things at a time when race issues were prevalent all over the south. K is a conservative Republican for (presumabely) many reasons, and that is his right. I have never vetted K’s reasons, but I’m sure it has a little to do with the military and a whole lot to do with the fact that he came from nothing and made himself into one of the greatest college basketball coaches. However, there is a truly symbolic difference here, and I must point it out right now.

    Mike Krzyzewski has never run from the fact that he endorses capitalistic principles. It is his right to go out and make American Express commercials (however lame) and profit from his marketability. Yet, these same principles influence the way he runs his program. With Coach K, the Duke program is HIS. He has assumed all of the legacy, all of the accolades, and all of the criticisms. Again, that is his right and he has earned it. However, Mike Krzyzewski is a man who will belittle a player for testing his own marketability (Will Avery to a great degree, Mike Dunleavy to a lesser degree-check out “Blue Blood” by Art Chansky) for “f-ing his program.” Yet, Dean Smith made a commitment to his players that he had their best interests in mind. Michael Jordan and James Worthy were encouraged to go pro, even though both had an interest in coming back. Why? Dean and Co. gathered info from several NBA people and informed the players that their draft stock was at a premium and that they should go pro.

    Ultimately, everyone will have their own politcal beliefs and social values. K’s beliefs and values have helped sharpen his focus on the path to being the very best he could be, and he probably had no other choice. I tip my cap to the guy for making it. Dean Smith’s beliefs and values helped him to connect with his players as individuals, and to teach to them on many levels: socially, philosophically, and didactially. Dean built a program that helped shape young men as people, if not personalities. K’s prgram builds fierce competitors, if not combatants. Yet, and back to my original point, sport was the harmonizer between them. Dean Smith, in his own unassuming way, was arguably THE fiercest competutor and Mike Krzyzewski can be very compassionate when…oh yeah, when his is winning.

  15. 52BigGameJames says:

    I hope K keeps wojo!

  16. 52BigGameJames says:

    ggod post DF, but I think South Chicago had as much to do with K’s personality as anything.

    expanding on the same point, Dean in many ways represents the old-school traditionalist Republican, or “Conservative” values if you will. Quiet (as opposed to the bombastic Rush Limbaugh’s, etc) and unassuming.

  17. Tar Heel Fan says:

    And lest we forget that UNC is a very liberal campus much like all public liberal arts schools. The fact Obama showed up there to give a speech is no surprise, especially since young voters are one of the groups he is doing extremely well in attracting.

    Where Roy is concerned I would speculate that being active in politics on the public stage is just not his thing. I am sure he votes but his leanings are pretty well masked IMO.

  18. 52BigGameJames says:

    while we’re on the subject (and I don’t have a dog in the fight-just an observation), Bev Perdue prolly nailed it with the endorsement from Go, er, Andy Griffith. pretty much of a coup for her campaign.

  19. Lord, I hope Roy wasn’t endorsing Obama for president. I make no bones about being an old school Republican, but I can honestly say I’m leaning towards leaving that part of the ballot blank come November………
    If I was ever a good enough player, it would have been an honor to shoot hoops with Obama. I can’t stand the guy or his politics, but to say that I was on the basketball court at the same time with him would have been a great story to tell my family and friends.
    As for K being a Republican, maybe I can ease up on him a little bit……..nah, don’t think so. =)

  20. Josh Bowling says:

    As a young 34 year old conservative, I do not support Durham’s own Coach K.

  21. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    Roy’s comments were purely in fun and were in fact funny. My late teen and 20-something kids all are totally bored with my obsession with UNC but when they saw Obama playing hoops with the Heels they suddenly thought UNC was pretty cool so I can’t think of it being anything but helpful.

  22. Josh Bowling says:

    All this talk about Obama making UNC look good, how about UNC making Obama look good?!!

  23. Josh Bowling says:

    Hell, UNC would make anything look good for that matter

  24. DeanForever says:


    “Hell, UNC would make anything look good for that matter”

    I like what you did there.

  25. Charles says:

    No offense, but I’ve seen this mentioned before and wanted to offer a clarification. I’m from Chicago, and from what I know, K grew up on the northwest side of the city. In his day, still a gritty part of town (think Algren’s Man With the Golden Arm), but with entirely different connotations than the renowned “South Side.” On the Obama-recruiting issue – there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Wow, rather long for my first ever post.

  26. 52BigGameJames says:

    duly noted Charles–my bad-thanks for the clarification and welcome to THF!

  27. DeanForever says:


    Being an “old-school Republican”, are you aware that one of the prefaces in “A Coach’s Life” (about Dean Smith) was a quote by none other than John McCain? I know that a lot of Republicans are hating on McCain, but it still speaks about how highly he thought of Dean’s integrity, his principles, and his legacy.
    If nothing else, it is good to show that UNC basketball is not defined by political polarity, but by respect.

    My God bless Dean Smith and the program that he helped make so special.

    For the record, didn’t Duke put out a disclaimer (when K held the fundraiser for Elizabeth Dole) saying something like (and I strongly paraphrase), ” We here at Duke University endorse the belief that everything Coach K does is beyond the capabilities of the Almighty himself. In regards to his affiliations with (don’t know her official title) Mrs. Dole, Duke University does not, and it pains us all, collectively, to say this…we do not endorse Coach K’s political views or any coach’s political views.”

    That wad of poo was chased down with this:

    “But Mike, er, Coach K, if you are listening…we love you so very much and we regret that we even have to make such superfluous announcements. We fully support the fact that you castigate the likes of Will Avery and Mike Dunleavy! Shame on them! Do they not know that your soiled hands; particularly your fingers, need to be kissed by mere mortals mouths on a daily, er…hourly basis! It is not the personal interests of student-athletes that matter; rather, it is the fact use words like integrity, character, and susbstance, and filter those words through the willing mouth of Dick Vitale…these are things that matter! We also love the fact that you schedule St. Johns every year, so that we are ensured some satisfactory exposure in a large media market…AND we get to annihilate them (St. John’s); thus, making the likes of Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer, and Lance Thomas look like the true basketball talents that they are! Please forgive us Coach K. Please forgive us.”

    You get the point. My reason for doing this is to illustrate how the university sheepishly cowers before Krzyzewski. He could endorse anything and they would take a cowardly angel on “distancing” themselves from it. That angle would be ensued with some rediculous suck-up front by the Duke press corps, which is to say, ESPN (Vitale), CBS (Davis, Packer), and in the sports writing world (Feinstein). The usual supects.

  28. DeanForever says:

    In other news…

    Some silly troll has posted on here and is about to have the lords of fate concoct a waterfall of bad karma on his/her lumpy head. Be prepared you silly little troll. Wait, troll..hobbit…hmmmm? Wojo? Collins?

  29. Josh Bowling says:

    Dean, you are a funny man!

  30. Wilson says:

    I always miss the trolls. Such sadness. Dean is tearing it up today.

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