The NCAA Final Four just got its own version of a double-shot espresso with a Red Bull chaser.
After 34 years behind a mic for ESPN, the boisterous, energetic Dick Vitale will finally work a Final Four game this season. Granted, it will be for ESPN International, meaning it will only be heard outside the United States.
|Photo by: Streeter Lecka|
Love him or hate him (and trust me, there are plenty of both), there is no denying that this is long overdue. Vitale, a broadcasting Hall-of-Famer, has done his time and then some on regular season games for ESPN, serving as a color analyst since 1979.
I personally like Vitale's style and his larger-than-life persona that includes screaming into the microphone and creating a language that is all his own. His dialogue consists of terms like the aforementioned "PTPer" -- Prime Time Player; "Diaper Dandy" -- a great freshman player; and "Dipsy-Doo-Dunkaroo" -- a stylish dunk, just to name a few; along with his "All-Whatever" teams that he seems to come up with every week or two.
This is a nice move by ESPN. Sort of a reward, if you will, for all the years of hard work by Vitale. At 73, the end of his career can't be too far away. His current contract goes through the 2014-2015 season, but who knows beyond that. This is something Vitale himself has admittedly longed for.
I do wish there was a way that he could be "loaned" or temporarily traded to CBS for the weekend of the Final Four so that he could do it for the large U.S. audience, but with the internet, maybe there will be a way that we locals that have enjoyed Vitale for all these years can hear it.
With all the mayhem that comes along with Vitale on the mic, his off the court work may outweigh his on-court persona. Vitale was very close friends with former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano, and he still does yeoman's work with the Jimmy V Foundation to raise money and awareness to fight cancer. He also does quite a bit of volunteer work with inner-city youths, giving clinics and speeches to underprivileged kids.
The only thing that might make this experience better for Vitale is if his beloved Duke Blue Devils (he's been accused of rooting for them, even though he is supposed to be an impartial observer) are in the semifinal and final that he works, and come away as this year's champions. Dickie V will be UNCONTROLLABLE, BABY!