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ESPN Signs Vitale To New Deal

Jason Barrett

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Hall of Famer Dick Vitale, one of sport’s most influential and recognizable personalities, has reached a new contract extension with ESPN to continue as a college basketball analyst with the company through 2016-17. Vitale will call some of the season’s top games across ESPN networks, including regular-season action primarily on ESPN and ESPN2 and the Men’s Final Four for ESPN International. The agreement was announced by John Wildhack, ESPN Executive Vice President, Production and Programming.

“Dick is the ultimate ambassador who has always recognized the importance of both educating and entertaining the audience,” Wildhack said. “He puts his heart and soul into everything he does – his work, his life, his family – and we are all better for it. We are thrilled to have his unmistakable presence on ESPN for years to come.”

Vitale added, “I am just so honored to be at ESPN for over three decades. I am absolutely thrilled, at my relatively young age of 75, ESPN feels I am still passionate enough to talk about a game I love, college basketball. I am just so grateful to be part of the ESPN family. Without ESPN, there would no Dickie V; there would be no Hall of Fames. I am forever indebted to them.”

Vitale joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season — just after the network’s September 1979 launch — following a successful coaching career. He called ESPN’s first-ever major NCAA basketball game – Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he’s called more than a thousand games.

Over the years, Vitale has been widely recognized for his work and his positive impact on others. Just recently, he was honored by the American Cancer Society for his dedication to cancer awareness; by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) with a Court of Honor Award; as well as by Seton Hall University with the Humanitarian Award.

Beyond the numerous awards he’s received for his work, including the sport’s highest honor in 2008 (Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in the contributor category), Vitale has been celebrated for his many charitable contributions. He’s been an outspoken and passionate fundraiser and board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research and has also worked closely with the Boys & Girls Club and Make-A-Wish, among other organizations.

While his knowledge, preparation and enthusiasm are unparalleled, his “Vitale-isms” have become part of the sports lexicon, including “Awesome, Baby!,” “Get a TO, Baby!” and “PTP’er.” Vitale, who has authored nine books, has been selected for nine halls of fame. In addition to TV, he contributes to numerous other ESPN outlets, including ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and more.

Vitale’s roots are in teaching the game he’s loved since childhood. Following college, he got a job teaching at Mark Twain Elementary School (Garfield, N.J.) and coaching junior high school football and basketball. He began coaching for eight years at the high school level in 1963, and in 1970, moved on to his first of seven years of college jobs with Rutgers and later University of Detroit. In May 1978, he was named head coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, the job he held prior to joining ESPN.

Sports Radio News

Doug Gottlieb Details Interviewing For College Basketball Head Coaching Vacancy

“I’ve told people that for the radio element to — for the right thing — I’d give it up. The (podcast), I’m not giving it up.”

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Fox Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb recently interviewed for the vacant head coaching job at Wisconsin-Green Bay and detailed the experience on his podcast.

“I got a chance to talk to (Wisconsin-Green Bay AD) Josh Moon several times during the year after they had made their coaching job available and my approach to how I’ve done these things — and this is not the first time I’ve gone down this path, but this was a different path,” Gottlieb said on his All Ball podcast.

“This is a low-major, mid-major job, and there’s no connection there. I’ve told people that for the radio element to — for the right thing — I’d give it up. The (podcast), I’m not giving it up. I love doing it and I think there’s a very smart world where if I’m coaching I can still do this podcast and still do it with basketball people all over the country and the world, and it’s kind of like a cheat code.”

He continued by saying that seeing Shaka Smart be successful at Marquette has motivated him to continue to search for the right fit as a college basketball coach.

“That’s what I want to do. And last year when I was coaching in Israel, that also continued to invigorate me…this is something that I would really like to do. It has to be the right thing. It has to be the right AD who hits the right message.”

He continued by saying that a sticking point of negotiations was he wasn’t willing to give up his nationally syndicated radio program for the job. He was willing to take less money for his assistants pool, but also to continue doing his radio show.

Gottlieb did not get the position with the Phoenix, noting that he was a finalist but was never offered the job. The position ultimately went to Wyoming assistant coach Sundance Wicks. Wicks had previous head coaching experience and had worked with Green Bay athletic director Josh Moon at Division II Northern State. He admitted he wasn’t necessarily “all-in” on the job due to the current ages of his children and whether the timing was right to uproot his family to move to Northeastern Wisconsin.

The Fox Sports Radio host does have coaching experience. He has worked as a coach for the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Maccabiah Games, sometimes referred to as the Jewish Olympics.

Gottlieb’s father — Bob — was the head men’s basketball coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1975-1980, compiling a 97-91 record.

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Waddle & Silvy: Scott Hanson Told Us to Lose His Number

“We didn’t call him back, so he set out what he wanted to do.”

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Aaron Rodgers took immense pride in the fact that he told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter to “lose his number” while discussing his future earlier this week on The Pat McAfee Show. ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy said they’ve experienced similar treatment from guests on their radio show.

While discussing the Rodgers interview with McAfee, the pair admitted that NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson once told their producer to stop trying to book him for interviews on the program.

“I believe the presentation was ‘Do me a favor: lose my number after this interview’,” Tom Waddle said. “So he tried to do it politely. Scott Hanson did. Get out of here. That concept is foreign to me. How about ‘Hey, next time you text me, my schedule is full. I can’t do it, but thanks for thinking of me’. ‘Lose my number?’ You ain’t the President, for Christ’s sake. I’m saying that to anyone who would say that. ‘Lose my number?’ We’re all in the communication business. I just don’t know — why be rude like that to people? What does that accomplish? You know what it accomplished? We didn’t call him back, so he set out what he wanted to do.”

Co-host Mark Silverman then mentioned that the show once tried to book Hansen and NFL Red Zone host Andrew Siciliano together in the same block, with the idea of doing a trivia game to see who the supreme Red Zone host was. Siciliano agreed, but Hansen declined.

The pair also confirmed that an NFL Network personality had told them to lose their number, but couldn’t remember if it was Rich Eisen or not.

Silverman later joked that maybe Hanson was getting a new phone with a new number, and was politely sharing with the producer that he could lose the current phone number because he would share his new number in short order.

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Seth Payne: Aaron Rodgers ‘Makes Gross Inaccuracies’ When Calling Out Media

“This is where Rodgers does this thing where he, in calling out reporters for their inaccuracies, makes gross inaccuracies in his accusations.”

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Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers is always mad at the media for the inaccurate things he says they report, but according to Sports Radio 610 morning man Seth Payne, no one is more inaccurate than the quarterback himself.

Friday morning, Payne and his partner Sean Pendergast played audio of Aaron Rodgers responding to a question about a list of players he provided to the Jets demanding they sign. Rodgers called the idea that he would make demands “so stupid” and chastised ESPN reporter Dianna Russini, who was the first to report it.

“Now to be clear, Dianna Russini didn’t say demands in her tweet. She said wishlist,” Pendergast clarified.

They also played a clip of Russini responding to Rodgers on NFL Live saying that she stands by her reporting and it is her job to reach out to confirm that it is true.

“This is where Rodgers does this thing where he, in calling out reporters for their inaccuracies, makes gross inaccuracies in his accusations,” Seth Payne said.

He added that if Rodgers is being serious, he is doing some serious nitpicking. He claims that he didn’t give the Jets a list, but that he spoke glowingly about former teammates and told the Jets executives that he met with who he enjoyed playing with during his career.

Payne joked that maybe he wrote down the names in a circle pattern so that it was not a list. Pendergast added that he could have had Fat Head stickers on his wall that he pointed to instead of writing anything at all.

In Payne’s mind, this is a case of Russini catching stray frustration. Neither in her initial tweet nor in any subsequent media appearance did she use the phrase “demands”.

“What he’s actually responding to in that instance is Pat McAfee is the one that described it as a list of demands,” Seth Payne said.

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