Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game as Duke men’s basketball coach didn’t go as many would have predicted. North Carolina ruined the festivities by trouncing the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 94-81. Duke’s performance was so bad that Coach K felt the need to apologize to the fans, calling the effort “unacceptable.”
Though the result of that home game surely stings, it has no effect on Krzyzewski’s legacy as a college basketball icon. On Friday’s The Dan Patrick Show, Patrick noted the impact that Coach K has had on the sport and drew an intriguing parallel with another figure whose status is iconic in the sport, ESPN commentator Dick Vitale.
“Coach K started in 1980. His first win was against Stetson,” said Patrick. “But Dick Vitale started in 1979. And Dickie V would always talk about Duke, he loved the Dukies, everything about Duke. He was nicknamed ‘Dukie V’ at one point.
“But I thought about that, with Coach K ending his career and I don’t know if Dick Vitale will be able to call another game. I hope he’s just healthy enough to be able to watch basketball. He’s going through a lot now; he’s going through cancer treatment. But just the timing of this; we’re getting ready for March Madness. This is when Dickie V is at his best. It takes a lot out of him because he puts a lot into it.
“And I just thought about that, Coach K and Dickie V coming into college basketball really at the same time,” Patrick continued. “When college basketball was peaking, Dick Vitale was, then Duke. Duke became a brand, like Notre Dame and the Lakers and the Yankees, late-80s, early 90s. Then we started getting tired of hearing about Duke because ESPN put Duke on every single night. Dickie V loved Mike Krzyzewski.”
As Patrick points out, the careers of Krzyzewski and Vitale have run nearly the same length of time, along the same period. As Coach K nears retirement, Vitale nears what could be the end of his broadcasting career.
In Sunday’s Boston Globe, Chad Finn wrote about communicating with Vitale via text message because his doctors have told him he cannot speak for four weeks as he recovers from cancer treatment and vocal cord surgery. Imagine that: During March Madness, Dickie V — whom many consider the voice of college basketball — can’t speak. Amusingly, however, Finn confirms that Vitale texts just as he speaks, complete with some of his signature phrases.
At 82, perhaps Vitale won’t be able to continue broadcasting. The hope is that he can still watch college basketball for many more years to come. Maybe his path can continue running alongside Krzyzewski’s and the two can sit together and watch a game — maybe even a Duke-North Carolina clash — sometime in the near-future.
Travis Rodgers: ‘Celebrities At SoFi Stadium Make Rams A Better Primetime Fit For NFL’
“You go to a game and it’s, ‘Wow, there’s LeBron; there’s DiCaprio; there’s this.’ Damn, what more can you ask for from this franchise?”
Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Travis and Sliwa discussed how the NFL is consistently able to fabricate non-game events into must-follow action, generating ratings and revenue during the nearly seven-month long offseason. The special promoting the release of the full 2022 season schedule is on Thusday night is a good example..
“I’m sure we’re going to be 10 weeks into the NFL season [and say], ‘Man, that team didn’t turn out the way we thought it would,’ [or] ‘Oh, that team is better than we thought it’s going to be,’” said show co-host Allen Sliwa. “That’s what kind of makes this part of the year sort of exciting – that you start finding out what the matchups are.”
Nonetheless, the NFL has been able to captivate fans through making a spectacle of offseason events. This includes the impending primetime television schedule release special by the league, rather than simply divulging the week-by-week matchups with minimal grandeur and melodrama.
“They’re so good at turning things that aren’t games into things,” said show co-host Travis Rodgers. “The draft is a huge thing; the combine is a thing; the schedule release is a thing; free agency is a thing; training camps are a thing.”
While the NFL schedule may not yet be fully released, some primetime matchups have been announced in advance, potentially to pique the interest of fans, media partners and the players themselves. It is safe to say that the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams will receive much of the primetime action across the NFL’s remodeled slate of broadcasts during the 2022 season. In fact, it was recently announced that the Rams will be playing on Christmas Day against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos on a game simulcast on CBS and Paramount+, along with the inclusion of a special viewing presentation on Nickelodeon sure to include the network’s signature slime.
Aside from the team’s success on the field though, there exist other reasons why the current moment is an opportune time to schedule the Rams to play games in primetime.
“I’m telling you – the Rams are really good,” said Rodgers. “They play in a place that’s got great visuals. There’s going to be celebrities in the stands. A brand new stadium. Everybody likes coming to L.A. This is the place you’re going to have people come over and over.”
It was not always guaranteed that the NFL would be willing to return to the City of Angels, and if the league would be welcomed back. Yet since the construction of the $5.5 billion-SoFi Stadium complete with NFL Network studios within new league headquarters combined with the early success of both the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, the reincarnation of football in southern California has been largely prosperous thus far.
“It’s almost like icing on the cake,” said Sliwa. “The NFL is the NFL either way. But the brand the Rams have created over a short period of time, and… the visuals. You go to a game and it’s, ‘Wow, there’s LeBron; there’s DiCaprio; there’s this.’ Damn, what more can you ask for from this franchise?”
Paul Bissonnette: ‘Wayne Gretzky’s Kids Helped Me Land TNT Gig’
“Paul Bissonnette said that Ty and Trevor reached out to their dad shortly after they heard that he was going to part of TNT’s NHL plans.”
If you’re going to party, party with the right people. That is a lesson that has served Paul Bissonnette well. He told Pat McAfee that it lead directly to a relationship with Wayne Gretzky and to a job on TNT’s NHL studio show.
Before he broke through as the host of Barstool’s Spittin’ Chiclets podcasts, Bissonnette played six seasons in the NHL. Most of that time was spent with the Arizona Coyotes. He got to the team a year after Wayne Gretzky was the coach.
Even after he was fired, Gretzky kept his home in the Phoenix area. His sons Ty and Trevor lived there with another friend while they attended Arizona State University. Bissonnette described the home as a mansion and said he attended a lot of parties there.
“Let’s put it this way, I was batting 1.000 at this place,” he told McAfee. “The girls were like everywhere.”
Partying with the Gretzky sons opened the door to gaining Wayne’s trust. Paul Bissonnette said that Ty and Trevor reached out to their dad shortly after they heard that he was going to part of TNT’s NHL plans.
“That was an easier transition to meeting him because they actually vouched for me and told him, when he got the TNT gig, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta get Biz on. He does Spittin’ Chiclets. I think it would help the broadcast.’ Wayne ended up putting in a good word and then it all worked out.”
Co-host AJ Hawk asked Bissonnette what it was like to now be friends with someone that was an icon to him in his youth. Bissonnette described Wayne Gretzky as a “guy’s guy” and said he values time spent in The Great One’s dressing room drinking beer and telling stories.
“Buddy, it’s a dream come true, and that alone is incentive enough for me to fly out here once a week or twice a week and do this gig.”
The interview was a lot of fun and ended with Paul Bissonnette acknowledging that there are two unsung heroes of his personal and professional lives.
“I really gotta thank his kids Ty and Trevor for the introduction and for helping me get laid.”
Scott Zolak: Tom Brady Should Retire And Go To Fox Right Now
“When I hear Tom Brady say how he has more to prove, what exactly, what is it?!”
Whenever Tom Brady decides to actually quit playing in the NFL for good, we now know what his next chapter will be.
News broke Tuesday that Brady has signed a contract to become the new lead analyst for FOX’s top NFL broadcast booth. The deal, according to reports, is for 10 years, $375 million.
Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand came back from commercial break on Tuesday after having just talked about Brady’s move when they heard the official financial figures involved in the deal.
Zolak said there’s no question Brady should quit sooner rather than later.
“When I hear Tom Brady say how he has more to prove, what exactly, what is it?!” he said. “Like those numbers? Come on!”
Bertrand took the conversation in a different direction saying that this mega-contract is setting Brady up to eventually be a sports team owner.
“Ownership of something will be in play,” he said. “With his connections, as he’s starting to spread out…There’s something else coming on top of this after this. This is step one of the process. This guy’s got a plan.”