When people think of college basketball, they often ponder over hypothetical matchups, especially those in the NCAA Tournament. Watching Saint Peter’s run to the Elite Eight round would have likely been enough of a story to signify this year’s tournament, but college basketball fans have now shifted their attention towards a situation that has been looming in the background since the tournament began in 1939.
The Duke Blue Devils will face the North Carolina Tar Heels for the 258th time in history. However, it will be their first-ever tournament meeting, let alone in the Final Four with a trip to the national championship game on the line.
Fans from Durham to Chapel Hill are eagerly anticipating this showdown, set to take place Saturday night from the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. The home stadium of the New Orleans Saints has a basketball capacity of 74,000, and there will unquestionably be no open seats. The excitement extends far beyond North Carolina, though, as fans from all across the United States and the world look forward to the game, set to begin just after 8:45 ET.
One of the broadcasters set to bring the game to listeners is Kevin Kugler, the lead play-by-play announcer for college basketball on Westwood One. This long-awaited game has dominated the sports conversation all week and as a national broadcaster, he knows it is a very big deal to be on the call for the game.
“If you’re someone who’s doing this game on a national level and you can’t say this is a big deal, you probably shouldn’t be doing these games,” Kugler said while being interviewed on The Mac Attack Thursday on WFNZ in Charlotte. “Whether you’re a fan in North Carolina of these, or you’re someone who watches college sports from afar, this is a huge deal.”
The storyline, aside from Duke and North Carolina finally meeting in an NCAA Tournament matchup, is that it could be the final game on the bench for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Kugler knows that the Tar Heels’ fan base would love nothing more than to spoil Duke’s tournament run and end the career of the renowned Coach K after defeating the Blue Devils in their final regular-season home game in early March.
“If you’re a North Carolina fan… you have the chance to end his career with a loss to your team in the Final Four,” said Kugler. “That has to be the lottery ticket for any North Carolina fan, and if you’re a Duke fan, you get the chance to send Coach K out in the National Championship game and, oh, by the way, you get to step on your rival on the way there.”
This year’s Final Four contains seven of the national championship winners since 2008, which happens to be the same year Kugler began calling Final Four games on Westwood One. Sure, the matchups could turn out not to be as competitive or engaging to fans as is being anticipated, but it could also end up being one of the most storied semifinal rounds in tournament history.
“This is the blue blood of the blue blood Final Four, and people can argue ‘Villanova is not a blue blood,’ [but] Villanova’s a blue blood now,” said Kugler. “Maybe [they are] not a blue blood from the standpoint of 1984, although they won the title in 1985, but they’re not a blue blood in the sense of Duke, North Carolina, [and] Kansas. They are a blue blood in the sense of success though, and Jay Wright has…”
And then the interview suddenly stopped. Kugler had been dropped from the show, presumably because of a bad signal or loss of phone battery. (Did he use up the battery calling last week’s Providence-Kansas game via cell phone?) But Chris McClain and Travis “T-Bone” Hancock had other ideas as to why they had just lost their guest.
“Did he get dropped because he started talking [about] Villanova?,” asked McClain. “Was it not allowed? Too much talk about one of the other teams in the Final Four other than Duke or UNC.”
Kugler quickly re-joined the program and said what he supposedly meant to say before being cut off of the program.
“I’m sorry – I should have just said, ‘The only thing that matters in this Final Four is Duke-North Carolina. Then you guys wouldn’t have hung up on me,” he quipped.
The hosts also made it a point to give Kugler a valuable reminder before calling perhaps one of the most anticipated college basketball games in NCAA Tournament history.
“It is going to be a real buzzkill when the winning team fan base realizes they [have] to play one more game in order to win a title,” said McClain.
“On your [final] call, Kevin, make sure you don’t say that whoever wins just won the championship,” said Hancock.
“[I’ve] got to write that down,” said Kugler. “‘Not the championship.’ All right, good. I got that down now. I should be fine.”
Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP
“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”
Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.
One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.
“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”
More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”
Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”
An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.
“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.
“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.
Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”
Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road
“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”
When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.
“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.
No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.
Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.
“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”
If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.
Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”
Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.
On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.
This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”
McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.
“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”