Photo courtesy of CBS Sports
As one of the sportscasters who cover the NCAA basketball tournament for CBS, Dick Enberg is often asked who will win "the big dance." Enberg's response gives an indication of how balanced he feels the field of 64 is these days.
"I tell them to blindfold me, put up a dartboard and give me some darts," Enberg said during a recent phone interview.
From 1966 to 1975, Enberg was the play-by-play announcer for the UCLA men's basketball team. This was during the Bruins' domination of the college basketball scene. While he enjoyed calling the UCLA games, Enberg said that he really appreciates the current equality among the teams in the tournament bracket.
"[What the fans saw this past season] is a continuation of what we've enjoyed the past 10-15 years, a great parity among the teams in the tournament. There are 15 teams out there that have a legitimate shot at winning the championship this year."
This will be Enberg's sixth year working the NCAA tournament for CBS. Before that, he was a member of the NBC Sports team for 25 years, calling everything from football to golf to tennis, horse racing to Olympic sports and college basketball.
"By the time I moved to CBS, a lot of my friends from NBC had already moved there, like Billy Packer. With Al McGuire, Billy and I did four NCAA championship games for NBC. I was warmly received by the people at CBS."
Enberg pointed out that in the last month he's been paired with four different partners for four different assignments: Clark Kellogg, Bob Wenzel, Bill Raftery and Jay Billas. Enberg said that when it comes to teamwork, like a successful team on the court, the crew calling the game must also work towards having a smooth game.
"For me, after I've worked with someone for a while, I begin to get a feel [for their talents]," Enberg said, "and we soon develop a rhythm that helps things work better."
The list of people who have worked with Enberg is like a "who's who" of the sports world: Packer, McGuire, Merlin Olsen, Bill Walsh, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Johnny Miller and Don Drysdale.
Is there anyone that Enberg hasn't worked with that he would like to share broadcasting duties?
"I've never worked with [Dick] Vitale," Enberg responded, "but I don't think he'd want to work with me! (laughs) Seriously, we're both pretty emotional about our work. I think everyone is better off with a broadcast team made up of one loud announcer and one quiet one."
A couple of years ago, Enberg co-authored his autobiography (with Jim Perry), Oh My! The title is Enberg's "catchphrase," he first used it when he did the play-by-play of Indiana University basketball games from 1957 to 1960 for the school's radio station WFIU (Enberg earned his masters and doctoral degrees from IU).
The proof of Enberg's versatility lies in the fact that he has won 13 Emmys as a sportscaster, writer and producer during his 50-year career. And he shows no sign of retiring. In fact, Enberg talked of wanting to do more writing, and looking to have his one-act play about his friend Al McGuire produced on the road.
"I think it would be a natural to have it put on at the site of the NCAA Final Four. A lot of the coaches knew Al, and would hopefully enjoy the play. I'm hoping that we can put it on in Atlanta, the site of next year's Final Four."
When asked about the new NBA rule that states the age limit for entering the league's draft will increase from 18 to 19 years of age, and players must be at least one year removed from high school, Enberg replied that he doesn't believe it "totally answers the situation."
"Having been a college professor, I believe that the colleges shouldn't be looked at, or treated as the minor leagues for the NBA. If a youngster wants to skip college and go into the NBA, I say let him. That opens a spot on a college team for a 'true' student-athlete.
"I've admired the actions that Myles Brand and the NCAA have taken to promote the fact that the college environment is for academics first. You want to develop a sound mind and sound body in the kids, but sports should not run the schools' academics."
You can find a copy of Dick Enberg's book Oh My! at bookstores and at www.amazon.com.