[F]ans are inherently irrational. If we are exceedingly prone to various mental biases in life generally, when we’re in fan mode we can readily go off the rails entirely. And when we’re in fan/rivalry mode, almost anything is possible.
With more than 30 years of perspective from my school days, I can now see what a great coach and a great man legendary UNC-CH Coach Dean Smith was. The objective facts demand as much. He won a then-record number of games and did it “the right way.” More importantly, he was instrumental in the fight for racial justice even at a time when he didn’t have all that much clout.
But to me as a student in Cameron Indoor Stadium on game day, we was an arrogant blow-hard who sanctimoniously talked down to opponents, intimidated officials and got all the calls. Of course, now that Coach K has passed him on the all-time wins list, I’m more willing to be gracious. Even so, I’m still perfectly willing to argue that Dean — while terrific at recruiting and preparation — was overrated as a game coach.