I have known the world of Dick Vitale for 46 years. When Vitale was a basketball coach at East Rutherford High School in New Jersey, I was a young reporter covering high school sports, including East Rutherford.
He wasn't Dickie V then--but he was the same enthusiastic, loud and passionate person that he has been for almost 40 years talking about basketball on ESPN.
I was once with Dick when he visited Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, when he was looking for celebrities. when in reality he was the biggest celebrity on the block.
I have eaten breakfast with Vitale at one of his favorite places--The Broken Egg-- near his home in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. I have watched as he interacts with fans. When I talked with Vitale over the phone he was sitting at--The Broken Egg.
It's the same person-Dickie V.
But what not many people know is that there is also a Dickie V--formation. He has a passion for football--especially Notre Dame football. Both of his daughters played tennis at Notre Dame Vitale is a season ticket holder for ND football games. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here. [/membership] [membership]
Partially out of curiosity, I called Vitale on the phone and asked for his take on the upcoming college--FOOTBALL--season.
He did not disappoint. When I do stories, like most writers, I try to mix and match quotes with what I want to say. This time, I will give most of the stage to Dickie V for his compacted version of what he thinks will happen in college football this season.
In typical Vitale fashion, the topics went in many directions.
Vitale also had to deal with the sudden death of long time friend and ESPN co-worker John Saunders last week.
"Just devastated with his passing,'' said Vitale, as he tried to absorb the news "Just a great, great guy.''
If there is a passion outside of basketball it is for all things linked to Notre Dame.
Which was a perfect place to start Vitale's college football observations.
On Notre Dame--(QB) DeShone Kizer had a great year, but he is going to have to hold off Malik Zaire. He is a PTP (prime time player) They have Torri Hunter Jr. at wide receiver. He's going to have a big year as a receiver. I really think Notre Dame is going to be really good.
I'm a season ticket holder at Notre Dame. I have four seats on the 40-yard line in the first row behind the visitors bench and I wear my Notre Dame gear.
I know one area where Notre Dame is Numero Uno. And it's not even close. When you talk about fight songs, man it's clear. Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame. That fight song gives me goose bumps.
On the Heisman Trophy Race--The kid at QB for Clemson, Watson. He's very good and will be a favorite. But I think the Heisman is going out West. I think Stanford's (running back) Christian McCaffrey is going to win it. Quite awhile ago, I talked to Joe Theismann and he told me this kid was going to be a star. He was right on the money. At the end of last season, he was unreal. He's my choice right now.
On the Top 10--You can never underestimate Alabama. Nick Saban knows how to win. He keeps the Tide rolling by bringing in all those good Diaper Dandies (freshmen) and star players. I'm not sure who will be playing QB, but I guarantee you that whomever goes under center is going to be a quality player and they will do a great job defensively.
They tell me Oklahoma is going to be special. And you know Clemson with Watson at QB will be a factor. There are always going to be some Rip Van Winkles (sleeper teams). But you know in football it's going to be tough to get by the elite clubs. I think Michigan is going to have a great year. I think (Coach Jim) Harbaugh is the greatest thing to happen to Michigan since Bo (Schembechler). Harbaugh has a lot of Bo in him. I love his toughness, his competitiveness. They are going to have a super year. You can never underestimate an Urban Meyer coached team. The Buckeyes are going to be there.
On his fight against childhood cancer: I'm obsessed with it really. Raising money for kids battling cancer. So far we have raised more than 18.2 million dollars in 10 years. I have gotten to know a lot of kids with cancer, I have gone to funerals. It just breaks my heart So please donate. You can go to Dick Vitaleonline.com to make a donation which goes to the Jimmy V foundation (against Cancer).
On the difference between basketball and football coaches: Basketball coaches tend to be more emotional because the game changes so quickly And most of their emotions are out there for everyone to see. But they (football and basketball coaches) have one common denominator in that they are all serious competitors. They all strive to be the best. There is one area where there is no difference. If you can't recruit great players in football or basketball you are not going to survive.
There you have it--a glimpse at Dickie V formation--offered with the same enthusiasm by the 77-year old Vitale which he displayed 45 years ago when he saw me standing on the opposite side of the gym during one of his practices at East Rutherford High School and yelled out, "Hey, Mark, how are you doing?''[/membership]