Through Martin Rogers
FOX Sports columnist

If you’re on a budget and want to see Coach K do its thing one last time — whether it’s the first time, the 10th, or so many times you’ve lost count — head to Las Vegas. Or Columbus. Or South Bend or Clemson.

Because unless you’ve won the Powerball jackpot, it’s not cheap this season to be in the same building as a departing legend. That is the case wherever you are. Trying to get a glimpse of college basketball history at the Cameron Indoor Stadium? That’s almost impossible.

Mike Krzyzewski announced on June 2 that this would be his last season as Duke’s men’s basketball coach. It was as shocking as the news that a 74-year-old gentleman is planning to retire. At first glance, it shouldn’t be a shock at all. Yet somehow it was.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski explains the reasoning behind his retirement, talks about the importance of adaptability |  THE HERD

Mike Krzyzewski joins Colin Cowherd to discuss his announced retirement as coach of the Duke Blue Devils. Hear Coach K discuss the importance of adaptability in coaching.

Krzyzewski has been part of the sport for so long that it’s impossible for most of us to remember a time when he wasn’t. His career started when dunks were still illegal. His time at Durham predates the possession arrow, shot clock and three-point line.

He has been brilliant enough to win five NCAA titles, secure 15 ACC tournament victories, take 12 regular season championships and send 72 players to the NBA. He is so gracious that it remains eminently possible to like him and really, deeply despise the team he represents.

Few figures in sports have made such a lingering impression. It’s not often they stop by, and it’s even more unusual for you to get a warning that they’re going on a farewell tour. So it’s no surprise that every Coach K game this season is a big event, a feeling that will only increase as we get closer to the end.

The star of the 2021-22 season: Coach K |  Titus & Tate

Tate Frazier believes that Coach K’s farewell tour is the main storyline of the college basketball season.

“I told my staff and everyone around me not to use the word ‘last’,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m going after it the same way I’ve gone every year. Once you start saying… ‘let’s remember this thing’ or whatever, you’re opening the door for rationalization by not releasing everything.”

Coach K may not be into nostalgia, and that’s fine. All others are all inclusive.

A few months ago, Duke created a waiting list to even apply for tickets. But in the secondary home game market, the real chaos is out there.

At a charity auction, one flush (now significantly less flush) paid $1 million for four seats for the final regular-season game Krzyzewski will coach, fitting at home to North Carolina on March 5.

“I think that will be a difficult ticket,” admitted Krzyzewski. You think?

On Stubhub, floor seats for the North Carolina game are listed well above six numbers. As of Tuesday morning, the cheapest seat, a real nosebleed, could be had for $6,250 – parking ticket and barbecue pork sandwich not included.

Alternatively, there are home tickets to Appalachian State for $249 in mid-December. How about $389 for Cleveland State? As the quality of the opposition builds and the finals approach, the numbers climb: $1,300 for the state of Florida, $900 for Virginia, $1,176 for Syracuse.

“To think you’re there and see history being made personal,” Chuck Hemric, a longtime fan and former Duke employee told Spectrum News, “I don’t even have enough adjectives to describe it. Just to see how Coach K puts it all together – I call that magical.”

It wouldn’t really matter if Duke was poor this season. The sense of opportunity would probably be almost as great. But it turns out they have real potential and are on their way to a 107-81 win over The Citadel on Monday, which was overshadowed when Bulldogs coach Duggar Baucom was taken to hospital after collapsing on the track.

The Blue Devils are 6-0, with their next outing a final test: No. 1-ranked Gonzaga on Friday in Vegas. Everything went smoothly for Krzyzewski’s team this season, except for an unwanted interlude in which freshman star Paolo Banchero was accused of aiding and inciting DUI while driving in the back of a car he owned, with Krzyzewski’s grandson, Michael Savarino, as the driver. Savarino was charged with DWI and arrested on the spot. Banchero was charged but not arrested.

Banchero is brilliant and possesses extraordinary skills for a college player, let alone a freshman, but the real star is Krzyzewski, whether he likes it or not. He impresses because he is, with all those decades of saying the right thing, doing the right thing, encouraging young men the right way.

'Duke and Coach K can compete for a national title,' says Andy Katz

Andy Katz responds to the opening night of college basketball from the floor of Madison Square Garden, explaining why Duke and Coach K can compete for a national championship.

That’s why they come to Cameron all season, as they always do, just a little more special this time, for the final act of an unparalleled journey. They go, damn it, for the chance to say goodbye – and thank you.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.


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