But Duke Still Sucks

Coach K: Obama Is a Bad Coach in the ISIS War

The legendary Duke coach said Obama is foolishly telling ISIS what the U.S. team will or won’t do – a bad strategy in both war and basketball.

11.04.14 4:20 PM ET

Barack Obama is a bad coach in the U.S. military war against ISIS, according to legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, because the President is advertising to America’s enemies that the U.S. won’t use ground forces, giving the other team an advantage.

In previously unreported remarks at the Association of the U.S. Army conference last month, Krzyzewski told an audience of hundreds of military officers, defense contractors, and Army supporters that Obama has disrespected the U.S. Army by not using its infantrymen to fight in the war against ISIS. Making matters worse, Krzyzewski added, was Obama’s decision to reveal America’s playbook to our enemies by publicly declaring that the United States will not use “boots on the ground” in the current fight against ISIS.

“I know it’s upsetting to many of you when you hear ‘no boots on the ground.’ It upsets me too, because that’s like saying I’m not going to play two of my best players,” he said in his speech accepting the 2014 George Catlett Marshall Award, AUSA’s highest honor. “Because that’s what you are trained to do. And for decades and decades, the fact that we are a free country and we don’t play home games here is a result of having boots on the ground. That’s the problem.”

After a round of applause, Krzyzewski explained why Obama’s public announcement that he won’t use ground troops against ISIS was just bad coaching - because it allows the other team to stop preparing for it and gives them added confidence.

“It’s about letting your opponent know we are going to use our best players. And whether we use them or not, that’s up to the coach. You never tell your opponent you are not going to use [them], like I’m not going to play Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, -Christian] Laettner,” he said, rattling off the names of some of his biggest stars at Duke.

The former Olympic coach then turned the metaphor to international play, comparing Obama’s words to saying, “‘Hey Spain, I’m not going to start Lebron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] tonight.’ I don’t think you do that. Now how much I play them? Let the guy try to figure out how much I’m going to play them.”

More than just foolishly telegraphing his strategy, Obama – a famously intense college basketball fan -- is also neglecting using the players that have succeeded in the past, Krzyzewski said. That would be the U.S. Army. A West Point graduate and former coach of the Army Cadets, Krzyzewski called on the Army to stand up for itself.

“In our country today, the most respected group is the United States Army. Please understand there’s power to that,” he said. “I want to thank you for the countless times your boots have been on the ground, and as a result has given me an opportunity to live in a free country, to do what I want to do, to coach the United States team, the Duke team, whatever. So on behalf of the ordinary people, we love you and thank you for doing that.”

Although Obama’s close confidant Reggie Love is a former Duke player, this is not the first time Krzyzewski has criticized Obama. In March 2009, after Obama picked North Carolina to win the NCAA Tournament, the Duke coach said, “the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.”

North Carolina won, but Duke won the tournament the next year and Krzyzewski visited Obama at the White House with his Championship team.

“Payback is sweet, isn't it, Coach,” Obama said.