For the first time in 35 years, Dick Vitale won’t call Carolina-Duke

One of the central figures in the North Carolina-Duke rivalry will not be present Wednesday night when the Tobacco Road schools meet for the first time this season.

Dick Vitale will not call the game, meaning this will be the first time since ESPN’s inception in 1979 that college basketball’s most famous analyst will not be part of the broadcast for a matchup between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday that play-by-play man Dan Shulman and analyst Jay Bilas will work Wednesday’s game in Durham. Vitale, 75, confirmed on Twitter that his North Carolina-Duke streak will end after 35 years.

ESPN’s decision will probably receive mixed reviews, like anything involving the polarizing Vitale. Some viewers will surely miss the enthusiasm and catch phrases he brings to every broadcast he does. Others will probably be grateful Wednesday’s game will feature more cogent analysis and less tangents, screaming and fawning over the coaches.

While ESPN signed Vitale to a three-year contract extension last year, his absence from Wednesday’s broadcast is a sign that the network is gradually reducing his role. Vitale has been less prominent during the network’s Selection Sunday coverage in recent years and has been replaced by Bilas as the lead analyst on Saturday prime-time games this season, a role Vitale had filled since 2005.

Regardless of your opinion of Vitale’s work, he deserves credit both for his numerous contributions to the growth of college basketball and for his respectful response to his North Carolina-Duke streak ending. It can’t be easy for Vitale to step aside yet he’s doing it with class.

Written by Zac Porter

Zac Porter

Zac Porter is a contributing writer for WJS and three other online websites. Zac is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Clippers, Lob City, and a die hard fan and alumni of the UCLA Bruins. Zac has been with WJS since it’s inception but briefly left to finish his education. Now a graduate and on the path to even greater success, follow Zac for all your basketball needs, and of course the John Wooden Pyramid of Success.