North Carolina coach Roy Williams is unhappy with ESPN, to put it mildly. In fact, his displeasure with the network that calls itself “the worldwide leader” inspired quite the rant on Friday.
Here’s the background: For a while now ESPN has hyped the best of the best college basketball players and promoted their NBA potential. The network did it when Andrew Wiggins was at Kansas and Jahlil Okafor at Duke, and certainly it’s happening now with LSU’s Ben Simmons.
More recently, though, during college games, the network has been describing various’ players’ “green room” potential – as in the NBA draft green room. The network has even promoted games referencing the green room. In case you were unaware, the green room is where the top prospects gather on draft night to wait to hear their names called.
The mere mention of “green room” in the context of a college game was enough to set Williams over the edge, and it inspired something of a diatribe on Friday. Take it away, Roy:
“I think ESPN is (an ACC) partner, and I’ve got to watch on TV where somebody’s college basketball game and they’re talking about the freaking green room? That’s the most ridiculous thing. And that’s one of my partners? That’s half the damn broadcast: ‘Well, so-and-so’s in the green room.’
“And this is a great time for me to be saying something about it. Because they ain’t mentioning any of my guys, OK. But God almighty, you’re sitting there, you’re trying to win championships, and here it is, January, and ESPN’s talking about some green room and some Chad Ford or who it is and his (draft projections) – that’s the most ridiculous thing we’re having to put up with in college basketball.
“TV drives everything and again, hey, to all those other guys – get ‘em, take ‘em, go. They’re not talking about any of my guys. But that’s the reason why I feel more comfortable in saying something about it. But I mean, seriously, we’re trying to win conference championships, we’re saying college basketball means something.
“And here ESPN, one of our partners, and the only channel that works on my television – I’m going to guarantee you, guys, I don’t know, y’all can tell me your favorite program. I don’t know one program you’re going to list. If it’s not on ESPN, I don’t watch it. And then I’m thinking – God almighty, I’m watching games last night.
“Green room? Damn, I was looking around, I saw Michigan State wearing some ugly green uniforms the other day and I thought, ‘I thought Tom (Izzo) had a great deal of power.’ He’s got a whole green room now and then I realized they were talking about college players in the pro draft. We haven’t even had the dadgum – ah, that’s enough.
“That’s the most ridiculous freaking thing I’ve ever seen. And put it in capital letters and send it to ESPN. And tell them if they want me to tell them privately what the crap I think of them, I’ll do that. How’d we get on that?”
Steve Kirschner, the team spokesman who was sitting next to Williams, answered that one.
“Somebody asked a question about schedule,” Kirschner said.
That would have been me. And that question inspired another rant from Williams – one that devolved into his long take on the green room.
Imagine, if you will, Williams sitting at home, stretched out in the recliner, casually watching a college basketball broadcast on ESPN, the only channel that works on his TV.
All is well. And then all of a sudden they start talking about the green room.
Williams springs from his relaxed state. He squints his eyes at the TV and shakes his head. Did he just hear what he thought he heard?
The green room? THE GREEN ROOM?
Williams’ “green room” rant on Friday sounded a bit similar to Jim Mora’s famous “Playoffs!?” rant from way back when. Sub out “playoffs” for “green room” and you’ll get the picture. Meanwhile, Williams just might be crafting a note written entirely in capital letters to send to ESPN.