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Orr vs. Vitale

Geoff Wood

The internet buzz this week has been that Dick Vitale may be in Ames on Monday night to cover the Iowa State-Texas game for ESPN's Big Monday.

While I can't stand any grown man who babbles on in baby-talk, much less one who gets national coverage doing it, this is news because it would be a first.

The speculation began when new ISU AD Jamie Pollard said it might happen on a Des Moines radio show early in the week. Most likely Mr. Pollard doesn't know the ISU-Vitale history or he wouldn't have realized how slim the "might happen" probably was.

Since becoming a Cyclone fan in 1996 I'd heard that Vitale had never been to Ames despite the fact that Hilton Coliseum is almost always at least honorable mention on the yearly sportswriter lists of "Best Home Court Advantage" or "tough basketball venues to visit" thanks to the game day atmosphere ("Hilton Magic").

I heard lots of variations on why he'd never been to Iowa State but they usually boiled down to a confrontation between the longtime ISU coach Johnny Orr and Vitale. Apparently, Vitale has yet to get over it. Some folks said it went back to their coaching days when Orr was at Michigan (who he spurned to take the ISU post) and Vitale at Detroit. Others said it had to with something on TV between the two.

Turns out both were correct: During an ESPN Selection Sunday show in 1992 when ISU was on the tournament bubble Vitale was railing aginst the Cyclones and telling the nation they didn't deserve to get in. ISU was selected and ESPN went live to Johnny Orr's house in Ames as he had the whole team around him and this went down:

If their was ever a man to leave Vitale speechless it was Johnny Orr. And, if that bit of classic Orr comedy means that the Cyclones never have to tolerate that clown in Ames, so be it.