Thump, thump! And something Vitale this way comes

RADIO-TV

November 15, 1991|By RAY FRAGER

Thump, thump.

You hear that?

Thump, thump.

There it goes again.

Thump, thump.

It's getting louder.

Thump, thump.

It's getting closer.

Thump, thump.

It's right on top of us.

Thump, thump.

Look out. . . .

Thump, thump.

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

Thump, thump.

College basketball is back. Tonight at 9 on ESPN, it's UCLA and Indiana in the Tip-Off Classic. You've had a half-year to rest your eyes and ears. I've had a half-year to store up repeating letters and italics in preparation for Mr. Enthusiasm, Mr. Decibel, Mr. PTP-er, the V-Man, Dickie V. -- ooooooooooh, it's awesome, bay-bee -- Dick Vitale.

Vitale, by virtue of a travel itinerary that would give James Baker pause and by force of his personality, stands alone not only as the most famous announcer in college basketball, but also perhaps as the sport's most well-known person.

Are ya kiddin' me? Are ya kiddin' me? What about the General, Robert Montgomery Knight? How about the coach of the Georgetown Hoyers, John Thompson? Or what about the little man back in Noo Yawk, Looie Carnesecca?

No way, Dick. It's N.C., no contest. They can call all the TOs they want, but no way can they get you to dish the rock. You're drivin' the paint and skyin' for a dipsy-doo dunkeroo.

"I take that [his celebrity] as great flattery," Vitale, who will work tonight's game with Gary Thorne, said in a news conference Wednesday, "but once I get absorbed in the game itself, I'm a fan. I really just tune into the game itself.

"But I love the pre-game stuff. I'm a hot dog."

And, with 13 seasons of games with ESPN, Vitale certainly is still on a roll. Though no favorite of critics -- except for the chance to make fun of his speech and jargon, something a responsible writer never would stoop to -- Vitale is one of the few sportscasters, and maybe one of the few people on television period, who truly can be called unique.

Just as ESPN has provided great exposure for Vitale, so it has done for college basketball. Vitale pointed out that, before ESPN, much of the sport on television was centered on a few big conferences and perennially strong teams.

But if you took all of the courts on ESPN's 200-plus games and laid them end-to-end, do you know how far they would stretch? Neither do I, but that's not what's important.

"I think the one great influence ESPN has had on college basketball, now you're able to get a taste of all of college basketball," he said.

Unfortunately for ESPN and Vitale, the cable network's taste no longer includes any of the NCAA tournament, the domain of CBS.

"I'm jealous," Vitale said. "But I've learned in life that you can't have everything. . . . You tell [CBS analyst Billy] Packer I'm jealous, I'm crying, I eat my heart out, give me some of that."

@4 That's OK, Dick, we need that half-year to rest.

*

CBS' James Brown, a Home Team Sports alumnus, is returning the cable channel as host of "The Mike Jarvis Show," the George Washington basketball coach's program airing Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. . . . Eight Georgetown basket ball games will be on HTS, including the traditional rivalry with St. Leo.

*

NBC has announced some play-by-play assignments for the Barcelona Olympics -- Marv Albert on basketball; Charlie Jones on swimming, water polo and diving; Tom Hammond on track and field and diving; Chris Marlowe on volleyball; Joel Meyers on canoeing and rowing; Bob Trumpy on boxing; and Terry Leibel on equestrian.

If NBC had asked me -- the network called yesterday, but I was out -- I would not have put Trumpy on boxing. The sport practically is guaranteed to have several judging problems, and Trumpy is not exactly a cool head to place in the middle of an international controversy.

*

The boss was in his office working on his golf game. His bodyguard, Mongo, was off in the cafeteria eating some raw meat for lunch, so I walked right in. The boss' putt snaked across the room, under his desk, around the organizational charts, past the wet bar and over the sleeper couch, landing right in the cup. And it was a real cup, a limited-edition, John Tresvant-autographed coffee mug. "Great shot, boss," I said. "Did you ever think of trying this professionally? You know, you have things set up so well here, they practically could run without you. For instance, I'd take care of 'Things My Boss Wants to Know' . . . " At that, the boss menacingly raised his 3-wood and I improved my lie to outside the office.

Things My Boss Wants to Know: Why don't we ever say anything nice about Phil Chenier, who does such a great job on Bullets telecasts? (I tried writing something nice once and threw my back out.) . . . Can we think of anything else bad to say about Joe Theismann? (There has to be.) . . . If you had to choose between Norm Hitzges and Danny Sheridan for your football picks, who would you take? (Uh, how about Jeanne Dixon, giving 6 1/2 ?)

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