Dan Dakich: An Appreciation

The world of color commentators in college basketball is a wasteland of crotchety bald old men who suck and wheeze at the altar of teams like Duke and Kentucky. Dick Vitale weens and creens and screams till his pampers are wet. Jay Bilas does erudite like a pigeon in a pole barn. Bill Raftery’s patented shtick after a big play is a bellowing grunt like a long-constipated warthog.

ESPN and CBS stay with these bald, bellicose announcers out of lazy, obliterated  habit. If you had grandfathers like this you’d long ago have pushed them in front of the crosstown bus.

Then there’s Dan Dakich.

Dakich is the lightning rod color commentator who singularly turns a game into an event. His background as a player, coach and commentator is a string of significant diversions away from the what the public usually gets fed from the Pollyanna media elite.

During a recent Michigan State game the entire student section repeated chants of “We hate Dakich” in an attempt to distract opposing basketball players. Why? Because of some previous animated Dakich tweets he’d sent out sparring with MSU fans.

In the Ohio State/Wisconsin game he came out and laughingly stated how much he hated team mascots, and one particular mascot he wanted to “pull off his head and beat him to death with it.”

You’d never hear that from any other announcer. But who hasn’t felt that way about those obnoxious mascots?

What happened? Brutus Buckeye, the Ohio State mascot, came over behind Dakich and started a riotously great routine, giving him backrubs for love and finally sticking his finger in Dakich’s ear. The crowd – and the cameras –  loved it. Along with Dakich.

He knows basketball and pulls out the minutiae that make a game more interesting while educating the viewers. And when he goes off on tangents they’re almost always funny. (Very much unlike Dick Vitale who during one game drifted off to talk on and on about football till his partner embarrassingly pulled him back.)

So, thanks to Dan Dakich for really bringing the color back into the color commentator.

*************

Oh, and for those who don’t know, Dakich, playing for Bob Knight’s Hoosiers, single-handedly shut down Michael Jordan in the 1984 NCCA tourney in a masterly defensive effort that introduced the world to his patented “Dakich Defensive Duck Stance.” (Oddly, it never caught on.)

Jordan was so embarrassed by Dakich that he quit college ball and took off for the NBA, where he knew defense was actively discouraged.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/lopresti/2009-03-02-lopresti_N.htm

Also, while coaching at Bowling Green, Dakich set the record for Quickest Coach’s Ejection From A Game. He was kicked off the court after a mere 120 seconds after drawing 2 technicals from officials.

Dakich wasn’t afraid of expressing himself to referees, either.

And how many sports fans wish they could’ve done the same?

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