Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Dickie V.’s in town, baby!

If you were to pick one person as the face of college basketball, who would it be?

John Wooden? The legendary UCLA head coach led the Bruins to 10 national championships, including seven in a row. Yet, he's still not the man.

Dean Smith? He currently holds the record for most victories by a Division I head coach after 36 years of leading the North Carolina Tar Heels, including two national titles. However, he is also not college basketball's No. 1 idol.


Bobby Knight? "The General" needs just three more wins to surpass Smith on the all-time list so he may soon embody college basketball, but not quite yet.

The answer is none other than Dickie V., baby!

Sure, Vitale didn't make his mark on the game as a player or coach, but for the past 27 years he has provided some of the most entertaining analysis when it comes to college basketball.

It all started with a Badger basketball game as Vitale called ESPN's first NCAA basketball broadcast on Dec. 5, 1979, when Wisconsin played at DePaul. Since then, Dickie V.'s gone on to call a thousand or so games and has created some of the most memorable catch phrases, half of which end in "baby!"

Awesome, baby!
Get a TO, baby!
He's a PTP'er!
There's an M&M'er!
That kid's a Rolls Roycer!
He's a Surf and Turfer, baby!
It's Maalox Time!
He's playing like Mr. Pac-Man, baby!
Eat a Wilson Sandwich, baby!
Slam-jam, baby!
I don't even know what half of them mean, but I still love the guy.

Even if you find Dickie V. annoying and obnoxious, you can't deny the passion and attention he brings to the game.

This Saturday, Vitale will bring all of his catchphrases and his love for the game to the Kohl Center as No. 7 Wisconsin hosts No. 2 Pittsburgh, making it just that much better of a game to either attend or watch on TV.

The last time Dickie V. was in town, the Badgers were deadlocked in a huge regular season game against the top-ranked Illinois Illini two years ago. Vitale went nuts, jumping in the Grateful Red section while yelling his head off as usual.

This year, Wisconsin's basketball team will be in just as big of a game. While it may not have the same implications as the Illinois game did, it will be rather telling of where the Badgers stand before the Big Ten season gets underway.

Win or lose, though, you know it's going to be an exciting game — just because of Dickie V. Just imagine the commentary he's going to provide:

Alando Tucker with the dipsy-doo dunkeroo!
Jason Bohannon for three! There's the Badgers' diaper dandy, baby!
Look at the polar bear, Brian Butch — he's an all-Windex performer, baby!

Vitale may be a goofball, but he's never, ever boring.

But while Dickie V. is primarily known for his broadcasting, his accomplishments on the court shouldn't be overlooked — even though they undoubtedly are.

Vitale's roots in the game of basketball go way back. After college, he worked his way up through the high school ranks. Vitale coached East Rutherford (N.J.) High School to two consecutive state championships before earning an assistant job at Rutgers in 1970.

After three years of helping out the Scarlet Knights, Vitale soon landed a head coaching job for Detroit in '73. In the motor city, Dickie V. compiled an impressive winning percentage of .722 (78-30) before moving his way up to coaching Detroit's professional team, the Pistons.

Not surprising, Vitale and the professional game just didn't mix. Considering his love and passion for the college game, it comes as a shock to see he even coached at the professional level.

Vitale's tenure in the NBA didn't last long, but it turned out to be for the best. Right after the Pistons fired him following a 30-52 record in the 1978-79 season and a 4-8 start to the 1979-80 season, ESPN snatched him up to do color commentating for college basketball.

The rest is history.

If anybody defines college basketball, it'd be Dickie V. I mean, he's not called "Mr. College Basketball" for nothing, baby!

Michael is a senior double-majoring in journalism and communication arts. Send your favorite Dickie V. line to him at [email protected]

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *