You may know Dick Vitale, 62, for his colorful commentary and catch phrases such as “Awesome, Baby,” “Maalox Time,” and “Diaper Dandy.” But it’s his broadcasting credentials that gain respect from viewers of his in-depth analysis on the ins and outs of college hoops. He was, after all, on hand to broadcast ESPN’s first-ever NCAA game back in 1979. As we witness all the hubbub and competition that has come to define March Madness, it’s a safe bet that Vitale is going to have something to say.
AW: Tell the truth, How much do you love this time of year?
DV: It’s the best month in sports. Nothing compares to the excitement created. Kids play for such pride in representing the jerseys they wear. Every-one gets involved — the alumni, students, and fans of the respective schools. They live and breathe with each moment.
AW: What’s the single Best thing about the Final Four?
DV: The spirit and enthusiasm is second to none.
AW: What’s the biggest difference between the teams now and when you first started covering the games?
DV: The talent level is much greater. Also, the quickness of the athletes has noticeably improved.
AW: The best Final Four you’ve seen to date?
DV: 1983. My buddy, the late Jimmy Valvano, shocking the nation when NC State cut the nets down as national champs.
AW: What would you change about the NCAA basketball program if you could?
DV: I’d love to see the three point line moved back from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 6 inches — à la the international distance. The three point basket has become too dominant in college hoops.
- JAMES E. MAYFIELD