Where's Dick Vitale When You Need Him?

Off-Kilter

Great game last night at Bright, huh?

Who does this guy Karmanos think he is with this hat trick stuff--Maine freshman Paul Kariya?

That kind of play was the kind of story that the national media ought to eat up, don't you think?

Fine. But I don't want to talk about Jason Karmanos--I want to talk about Dick Vitale.

Dick Vitale??? In a hockey article? Doesn't this bozo get enough AT without you making him a PTP'er?

Yeah, as even he is prone to telling you, he's blind, bald, and dumb, and lately he's becoming increasingly arrogant.

But take it from a guy who spent all of yesterday afternoon in a sports bar: Dick Vitale represents a commodity that college hockey--and the ECAC, specifically--lacks in a big way.

There I was in the Crimson Sports Grille, surrounded by televisions on all sides. We had the ACC college basketball tournament on ESPN, the Big East tournament on TV-38, and the Big Eight tourney on NESN.

Programming schedule for the evening: more of the same, with one small gap on NESN for the first round series between Maine and Northeastern in the Hockey East playoffs.

The BCAC? MIA.

In fact, if you want to watch the championship game live from Lake Placid next Saturday, you'd better be there. The only television coverage is on the New York-based Empire Sports Network.

College basketball has no such problems; the Vitales and the Billy Packers of the country have taken a sporting event and turned it into a cultural phenomenon called March Madness.

ESPN's "Tournament Week" coverage has seen colleges like Wright State, North-east Louisiana, and Santa Clara gain two hours of national media exposure from obscure gyms around the country.

Harvard, a school that made it as high as second in the national college hockey poll, had two--count'em, two--television appearances all year.

And outside of the Beanpot, a Boston tradition worthy of network attention, it got no air time (AT) whatsoever apart from the occasional highlight reel.

So where is a Vitale to call Ted Drury a PTP'er (Prime Time Player, in Vitale-speak) or Tripp Tracy a diaper dandy (outstanding freshman)?

"We're in a market where there are a lot of things that are going on," Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni asserts. "There's big-time football, big-time basketball, and of course it's a pro sports city. Hockey's a regional sport at best, so you just have to get used to it.

"If you let that bother you, you're going to let a lot of things bother you."

OK, maybe I can buy that argument. But what about the fact that Harvard couldn't even sell out its own rink for play-off action against a team that it barely took three points from in the regular season?

"Maybe the storm warnings scared people...I don't know," said Tomassoni.

Don't get me wrong--I think that hockey is the most exciting spectator sport God has yet created, and the bands and school spirit that Harvard students bring to the ice to support its only big-time sport can get the chills running through my veins. But college hockey's lack of any significant national media attention make me turn to sports bars, "Tournament Week," and, yes, even Dick Vitale for the true pulse of college sports.

Harvard 6, Princeton 2?

I wish somebody else out there cared.

Other ECAC Quarterfinal Games

Yale 3, Brown 3 (Tied, 1-1)

Colgate at RPI (late)

SLU at Clarkson (late)