I've never really been a fan of Dick Vitale's. I probably wouldn't invite Dickie V over for dinner. If he was playing behind me solo on the golf course I'd let him play through before asking him to join my group. To be honest, I would prefer not to do anything that required me spending longer than 30 consecutive within a 50 yard radius of Dick Vitale. Unless it's my team on TV, I turn the channel when Dickie V calls a game. If he's calling a game I want to watch, I mute the game. In general, I am really unanamored with Dickie V's brand of manufactured enthusiasm and overkill. As an analyst, I find him to be no better than any barstool prophet who only watches one conference all year (THE ACC BABY! WAKE FOREST & NC STATE COULD TAKE GEORGETOWN AND PITT TO SCHOOL BABY!). He's NEVER critical of anyone (except Jim Boeheim) and I'm convinced his sole source of credibility is his emphatic ending to each and every sentence. He's a firm believer of the credo: he who laughs loudest laughs longest (yes, I know I have it reversed. That's why it's so clever.). In fact, I would argue he's one of the worst basketball commentators of all-time. Clearly I don't get Dick Vitale, nor do I truly have a grasp on his appeal. What I do have a grasp on is the FACT that Dick Vitale has contibuted more to College Basketball over the last 28 years than ANYONE who has either played or coached it and it is because of that contribuation that it would be criminal to hold him out of the Basketball Hall of Fame when the names are announced on April 2nd. And after reading Gregg Doyel's absolute hatchet job on Vitale (sorry if the link sucks and you can't access the article. cbs.sportsline.com is probably the worst managed sports site on the interweb with some of the best features. It's a shame), I felt compelled to write a little ditty in support of a man I've spent so many hours--and beers--berating.
Here are some fun facts about Vitale: Member of the broadcast team for ESPN's first college basketball game; record as Head Coach at University of Detroit was 78-30; on the board of two philanthropic organizations, created 5 scholarships for Sarasota youths and sponsors more than a dozen other scholarship funds; loves Mike Krzyzewski; appeared on an episode of the Cosby Show; received more than a gazillion awards and honorary degrees and shit; loves Mike Krzyzewski; is an intregral part of the Jock Jams music empire; blind in his left eye; his Hooters commercials are some of the most awkward moments ever collected on camera; his Digiorno pizza commercials are 30 seconds of pain in my life that I will never be able to recapture; and he loves Mike Krzyzewski. So he's done quite a bit with his life. But why does any of this make him qualified for the basketball hall of fame? It doesn't. Those things, while admirable, shouldn't even come into play. Instead, you need to look beyond the numbers and accolades and look at what the statistics and awards don't capture. Dick Vitale is college basketball. He's college basketball in October when ESPN prepares its first season preview show and Midnight Madness when Dick's voice is fresh and renewed from his 5 month hiatus from the spotlight. He's college basketball at speaking engagements for camps across country whether his audience is a 4 year-old or a 40 year-old. He is college basketball in Canton, NY, Canton, OH, Canton, China, Canton, Chile (why not?). He is college basketball's most identifiable figure. More so than Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino or Joakim Noah's disgusting grillpiece. He's arguably the most recognizable college sports personality ever. Right up there with Bear Bryant or John Wooden or Quint Kessenich. In all of sports, he's one of the most identifiable representatives of his sport. Try and think of a person responsible for promoting a sport who is more immediately identifiable than Dick Vitale. You probably only get out two or three names like Tiger Woods, Muhammed Ali or Jordan (or Gretzky if Hockey were relevant) before you start stretching to names like Agassi, Aaron, Berra, Hogan (Hulk) & Fuzzy (Zoeller is spokesperson for the LRCPL or Litigious Racist Crazy Person League). The difference with Vitale is that he not only accepts the responsibility of spokesperson, he embraces it and has taken it to a level almost unmatched by any other sports-related representative. Even people that don't know anything about sports would recognize Vitale and know what he stands for before they would be able to pick out a similarly integral representative of another sport. His life is dedicated to the sport and while I personally find him intolerable, his contribution to the game is undeniable. It is because of this contribution that he is more than worthy of recognition of a Hall of Fame induction. Another point in Vitale's favor that cannot be overlooked is that Gregg Doyel contends that he will "disown the damn thing (the Basketball Hall of Fame)" if Vitale is elected. Gregg Doyel out of basketball? This alone would be worth Vitale getting in.
Lastly, if Vitale is overlooked for Hall of Fame recognition during his time on Earth, I have a feeling that we'll look back on Vitale's contribution someday and posthumously offer him the recognition he deserved. There'll be a Dick Vitale related ESPY award, a sports broadcasting award in his name and someday when people of my generation are in charge of inducting folks into the Hall, he will get his due and his plaque will hang in its rightful place amongst the greats. And if that's the case, it would truly be a shame because I cannot think of anyone in ANY sport who would be more appreciative of taking his place in the Hall of Fame than Dick Vitale. And if and when Dickie V does get in, I'll be happy for him despite my personal feelings towards his verbal stylings. Yeah, I'll be smiling for you Dickie V, but no offense, I'll be muting your acceptance speech.