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2001 NCAA Tournament Special Section

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'East Coast bias' really a time-zone issue

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Please tell me it isn't true -- I am getting tired of hearing about "East Coast bias." I can't believe it, that teams out on the West Coast feel slighted.

I read a column by talented writer Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News. He wrote about the ECBC, or "East Coast Bias Conspiracy." Come on, get real, baby!

Ryan Mendez and Casey Jacobsen are fine young athletes and quality guys, but they have obviously not heard my comments this season. I have praised Stanford, Arizona and UCLA throughout the year. In fact, I picked Arizona and Stanford in the top five in my magazine.

The fact is, I picked Arizona and Stanford in the top five in my magazine.
The problem, as Stanford coach Mike Montgomery points out, is the time difference. With night games on the West Coast starting later by eastern time standards, it's difficult for West Coast teams to get the publicity from the East Coast media that they richly deserve.

But through all of my media vehicles -- ESPN.com, ESPN Radio, my magazine and the games I do on ESPN and ABC -- I have sung the praises of the Pac-10.

I know Montgomery is a very bright guy.

I have said time and time again how super the upper-echelon teams are. Jacobsen is a member of my All-Rolls Royce team. Montgomery is on my list of the top coaches in America. UCLA's Steve Lavin thanked me for the positive things I said about him and his program during the Selection Show.

As for Lute Olson's claim that I am Dukie Vitale, not Dickie Vitale, I just laughed. I accept that comment as tongue-in-cheek. Lute knows as well as anyone that I have sung his praises and have said he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Part of the criticism comes because I praise Duke. I am not going to apologize for singing the praises of one of the best programs in the nation over the last 15 years. What's not to praise when talking about Coach K, Shane Battier, Jason Williams and company?

It's obvious that across the college landscape, a Duke paranoia has developed. It's like the Yankees in baseball and Notre Dame in football; it's purely a case of love 'em or hate 'em. The bottom line is simple: You don't forget 'em.

Perhaps this is a case of motivation. Then again, if you can't get motivated to play at this time of the season, there is something wrong. Maybe the Stanford players are trying to psyche themselves up.

The bottom line is the Pac-10 teams deserve their credit -- and I have given it to them all season.

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