Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. You can find him @evanJacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.
Few people in the history of college basketball will ever be as memorable and beloved as the man that was honored on Monday night in Detroit. Detroit Mercy honored its former coach, one Richard Vitale, by naming its basketball floor in his honor. Before he became the color broadcasting legend we all know today as Dickie V, the honored Vitale coached for four seasons at the school in the mid-1970s. He remains college basketball’s most devoted and entertaining commentator, but many fans don’t realize the full gamut of contributions he’s made to the game in his Hall of Fame career. Tonight’s appearance in Detroit was a reminder of why Vitale is truly one of the game’s all-time greatest ambassadors.
Younger generations may only know Dick Vitale for his passionate broadcasting work, full of unique analysis and outrageous calls such as this one. But Vitale also coached the Titans to the Sweet Sixteen in 1977 before suffering a narrow defeat to Michigan. That season,Vitale also led his team to a road win during the regular season over Marquette and Al McGuire, the eventual national champion. He then spent a year as Detroit’s athletic director before taking the head coaching job with the Pistons in 1978. He only lasted a little over a season in the professional ranks, but he was a respected coach with an unmistakable passion for the game that led to a quick ‘temporary’ hire at ESPN when he was looking for work in the winter of 1979.