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Too much Duke? Dukies deserve it, though


As I walk the beach in Florida (Sarasota, to be exact), I have some idle thoughts...

Some people who read my recent column on the recruiting power of Duke told me I'm singing the praises of the Dukies too much again.

Are you serious? That praise is deserved, baby! What's overblown about praising Duke's recent signing of three top-flight juniors? They are among the premier players in the nation.

People don't want to hear the truth – the bottom line is, with Duke, Notre Dame and the Yankees, either you love 'em or hate 'em.

Get ready, college hoop fans, the numbers are going to be incredible at Duke the next few years.

Meanwhile, give credit to coach Roy Williams, as his Tar Heels have also put together a monster recruiting class. His future backcourt includes Wayne Ellington and Tywon Lawson, with small forward William Graves also giving a verbal commitment.

I hear so many people who say the Notre Dame football program is on the decline. Let me tell you, momentum is starting to heat up for the Irish.

Keep an eye on what happens in the Charlie Weis era. I feel the excitement and the adrenaline flowing. I sense the enthusiasm building when talking to the alums. It may not be represented in W's and L's in his first season, when you look at a schedule that features four of the first five games on the road.

Weis is doing something special right out of the blocks. The new coach is getting the job done in the world of recruiting. He has received commitments from seven outstanding juniors who have said they want to be a part of the future of Irish football under Weis.

Weis isn't making any excuses or alibis about the academic requirements.

Things are beginning to heat up in South Bend. That means a lot to the Vitale family, since I have two daughters who went to Notre Dame and two sons-in-law who were athletes at the Golden Dome. The Weis era will be a positive one. The offensive mind of the Patriots under Bill Belichick will bring a special passion to the Irish sidelines.

As a graduate of the school, he brings that incredible emotion to the title of head football coach at Notre Dame.

I have to admit, I love A-Rod.

I've gotten to know slugger Alex Rodriguez over the years, and I think the world of the young guy. I met him years ago at the ESPY awards, when he was a phenom with the Mariners.

Knowing what he's all about, and the pride he has and the perfection he chases, it bothers me that I constantly read writers claiming he isn't a true Yankee.

Give me a break! How many Yankees wish they hit 36 home runs, drove in 106 runs and transitioned to a new position? Then look at the start he's enjoyed this season. He's up there in home runs, RBI, runs, and yet you hear more about his errors at third base.

Check out what other third basemen have done this season! He's at a position where the ball comes at you a little quicker and footwork is different. Arguably, A-Rod would have been the greatest shortstop in baseball history, but he was willing to switch positions for the betterment of the team.

People should accept him for who he is. Rodriguez cares about people, about his performance and about doing the right thing. It's sad to think that when someone tries to do things in a positive way, he is labeled as a phony and a con man.

I just wanted to get it off my chest. It really bothers me, because some writers try to create a little controversy between two of the classiest guys in the game, Derek Jeter and A-Rod. Both are too big for that.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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