One Hess of a Mess at the ACC Tournament

The ACC tournament makes a brief stop this year in Atlanta, Georgia before returning to its rightful location of Greensboro, NC for the next three years.

The day began very early in the media room with multiple outlets spouting the lack of interest in this year’s tournament. It’s almost as if everyone is ready to hand the trophy to the Tar Heels and get it over with.

Discussions flew of how great the old days of the tournament were. “Back when I was growing up, the ACC tournament was a big deal. Teachers would reserve the TV’s from the school’s media room, wheel it into the classroom and we would watch the games during class” said more than a few media members. “Getting a ticket to the tournament used to be nearly impossible” said North Carolina writer Brett Friedlander. Well folks, those days are over.

Getting a ticket to the ACC tournament required only two things this year, a desire to see the games, and the gas money to get you there. Oh, and a buck ninety eight.  Stub hub listed seats at this year’s tournament starting at a $1.98. No, that is not a typo. The ticket price is not $198, it’s a George Washington and some change. Want to take a friend? Well for the price of a box of oreos, you and a friend can watch some ACC basketball in person. Some would call that blasphemy, others would call it downright embarrassing for the ACC. Times, they are a changing.

ACC official Karl Hess wasn’t in attendance for this year’s tournament as he normally is, but he was certainly the talk of the first day. If you’ll remember several weeks ago, Hess was heavily criticized for ejecting NC State legends Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta from behind the scorer’s table during the 2nd half of NC State’s loss to Florida State.

Hess was pulled from officiating the Miami vs NC State game just a few days later, and according to the local media in attendance at the ACC Tournament, Hess felt like the ACC was not backing him up. He was apparently offered the chance to work the tournament this year, but declined, taking a job working the Big East tournament instead.

The story should have ended there, would have ended there, had the three officials in the first game of the ACC Tournament not shown up wearing black shoes with a white sticker on the outside that had the initials “KH”. Camera phones emerged, rumblings began. “What does KH mean? Does it stand for Krzyzewski’s Huckleberry?” It took a few tries and questions, but the media finally figured out that KH stood for Karl Hess. The officials were showing their support, and the media ate it up. Tweets began flying, Facebook updates were posted, bloggers began writing, and by halftime, word had quickly spread about the symbol of unity.

As the 2nd game of the day began, everyone was craning their necks to see if the second crew of officials had the KH on their shoes as well. When the black shoes of the 2nd crew failed to show their support, word quickly spread that the ACC had put a stop to that. I’m sure it went something like this, “Fellas, if you want to work tomorrow’s games, you best not walk on the floor with that sticker on your shoes.”

Of course, the officials decided as a group to remove the display, prompting the ACC to release a statement to the effect that the crew didn’t wish to draw any more attention toward the Karl Hess situation.  This only led one to remember the line “Don’t start none, won’t be none”.

Day 1 of the games continued as planned. Few fans showed up for the early games, the arena began to fill as the night wore on, Maryland beat Wake Forest, NC State beat Boston College, and the world returned to normal. But for just awhile, the ACC tournament really was, a Hess of a Mess.

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