After the uproar following Dick Vitale's well-covered praise of Billy Donovan for offering and accepting a verbal commitment from Austin Rivers, and his scorn for Billy Gillispie for doing the same thing with Michael Avery, several fans apparently asked the Lexington Herald-Leader to look into it.
Today in his basketball notebook, Jerry Tipton called Dick Vitale and asked him about his remarks. Vitale revised and clarified himself thus:
In a telephone call on Friday, Vitale said he opposed the recruitment of players prior to their high school junior seasons.
"I don't think it's healthy for anybody involved, whether it be Florida or Kentucky or anyone," he said.
Vitale questioned the impact a commitment can make on a young prospect. "You wonder about the desire, the hunger, how much they're going to give their best knowing they have (a commitment) in the bank," he said.
As for calling Rivers' commitment a "win-win," Vitale said he meant that any commitment, including Avery's, could potentially be a winning proposition for all involved.
But, Vitale added, "I don't think it's good for college basketball when kids (so young) commit. Any of them. I don't care who it is."
Well, there you go. Vitale was against it before he was for it, and now he is against it again. Hey, when you are a TV and sports commentator with a glass eye, a hyper-ebullient personality all the money and fame you can handle, credibility is really a secondary concern. Let's face it -- nobody waits for Dickie V's insights on college basketball with bated breath. Many people do enjoy his effusiveness calling games, however, and that's what has made him a celebrity.
In the end, the only conclusion I can draw is that Billy Donovan has been elevated by Vitale to the status of Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski -- off limits for critical commentary, at least coming from Dickie V. His explanation, as anyone can see, is as lame as a three-legged racehorse and did absolutely nothing to defend whatever credibility he might actually have. Which brings me to another point -- why would any fan in their right mind consider Vitale, an entertainer at best, credible when it comes to writing intelligent commentary about college basketball?
So Kentucky fans who were expecting an apology or at least a decent effort at a clarification from Vitale will apparently be disappointed. For those fans who already carry a chip on their shoulder for UK's treatment in the media, this is just one more argument that Kentucky gets a bad break both locally and nationally (Having Tipton address this? How many fans are gnashing their teeth at that fact alone?).
For the rest of us, it's probably time for a shrug and a "consider the source." If you want intelligent and thoughtful commentary on college basketball, I'm going to suggest that Dick Vitale is probably not the place to get that. But if you want lots of entertainment, "awesome, baybee"'s, and occasional forays into the farcical, the hypocritical and the nonsensical, there is no better source than Vitale.
Oh, and don't worry -- just to vex you further, Vitale will eventually say something nice about UK and Gillispie. Consistency? Who needs it? It's McBasketball Commentary, baybee!