Amidst all of the talk and analysis of the University of Miami football scandal, Dick Vitale's opinion hasn't crossed many people's minds. However, he found himself on Miami radio to talk to the folks at Dan LeBatard's program yesterday. Usually, I'm not a fan of Vitale and his schtick. In fact, pretty much the only personality at ESPN who has become more of a caricature of himself is Chris Berman. And a large part of Vitale's shtick has been protecting the NCAA and the glamorous programs of college basketball.
Give Dickie V credit for calling on Donna Shalala to resign though, an opinion that's been slow to develop. After all, the national media became hoarse calling for Orville Reddenbacher/Gordon Gee to resign at Ohio St. and he wasn't exactly photographed taking a check from a convicted felon. However, when pressed by LeBatard's cohost Jon Weiner about rampant renegade programs in the NCAA, Vitale predictably put his head back in the sand. While Vitale is right in saying not every program buys their players prostitutes, only true apologists would claim there isn't a systemic problem in the NCAA. What was more surprising though, was Vitale abruptly hanging up on the interview... maybe he had to catch the early bird special?
Wow. Rarely will Vitale get that fired up unless it's his annual bubble team rant. After watching the clip though, the biggest loser in the entire exchange was Dan Le Batard. I've constantly been on the fence about Le Batard, at times he seems like one of the few sportswriters who are courageous enough to take an unpopular stand. But most times, especially when subjects hit too close to home (The U, Miami Heat, ESPN), he rolls over and plays dead. Seriously, is Dick Vitale going to go to the Bristol principal's office and tattle that LeBatard and his co-host were big bad meanies? If Dan LeBatard can't stand up to Dickie V of all people... what hope does that leave for his new ESPN2 afternoon series to be anything more than a lame dog and pony show?
[H/T USA Today]