Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Re-inventing Digger Phelps
First, an email that I wish I had written myself, because it is totally spot on. My comments to follow…
FROM: Mike in Indianapolis
RE: Digger Phelps
First off, I love the show. Thanks for making my mornings more enjoyable.
I'm writting to you to see if you have noticed what has happened to Digger Phelps on the 4-Letter Network over the last year. Do you remember when Digger Phelps was a respected college basketball analyst? A former, relatively successful, D-I coach that would break down games and offer his insight to the college hoops season.
In recent months, I can't help but notice that the WWL has been portraying Digger as (for the lack of a better term) the ass-clown of college hoops. Have you seen some of these College Gameday promos they run, with him dancing like an idiot in the background? There are at least two of them that make it look like Digger is Rainman, and it is such a burden on Jay Bilas, Reece Davis, etc to have to put up with him.
It is almost as if the higher ups thought, "Now that we have Bobby Knight we need to find the Lee Corso of college basketball. Someone that Coach Knight won't kill on the set... Digger, will you do this for us?" He already had the different color highlighter gimmick ala Corso's pencil. And now he is trying to take on the goofy ex-coach personality. Lets just pray that he doesn't wear a murkin as well.
That's all I got. Just curious if you have noticed the same strange transformation of Digger from Analyst to ass-clown.
Thanks again to Scott, Low-Def, and you for making the morning drive entertaining.
Here’s a 1000% true story about Digger Phelps. About 10 years ago or so, Digger had been paid a fee to come speak at University of Maryland’s season opening basketball banquet. After an evening of boozing and schmoozing, it finally came time for ol’ Digger to come up to the podium and say a few good words about Gary and the program. Now maybe he was tired, maybe he was blasted, but upon seeing all the red in the room, Digger began his remarks by saying “I think this is going to be a great year for INDIANA basketball!”
I watch a lot of experts on TV, and on radio. In fact, I LEAN on college basketball “experts” quite a bit, because with my early-to-bed-early-to-rise schedule, I can no longer watch any meaningful amount of college basketball to form my own coherent opinions.
As such, I have a keen ear to what guys bring good insight, and what guys regurgitate surface level information that even I could spew forth.
And every time, Digger comes off as the spastic kid trying to skate around the rink while holding onto the railing. Not only is he shallow, but he’s noticeable unsure of things he’s saying. Probably, because he’s been fed this information from ESPN’s vast research staff.
As to the point about “re-inventing” the Digger “character” (remember, this is a Disney product, people) I too noticed the other night, that Digger was exceptionally mouthy and jumpy when making a point. When Mike said “Lee Corso” I said “BINGO!” (Only I respect Corso’s knowledge more).
When I want to actually learn something about the college game from an ESPN “expert”, I only listen to three people. 1) Jay Bilas 2) Doug Gottleib 3) Joe Lunardi.
And even though Lunardi is a niche product as a bracketologist, his basic chops on the game are sound.
The high priced, glamour boys of ESPN’s college hoops are obviously Vitale, Phelps, and now Knight. I’ll give the General props for sometimes candid observations, but mostly he’s a cranky ol’ puss. Vitale ceased being informative about 8 years ago, and Digger’s uselessness is self-evident.
As for all the rest, I suppose you can have ‘em. I hardly even notice they are around.
One last note. Mike was brilliant in using the initials WWL to describe the shamless 4-letter cable sports network in the woods. Like the WWE, it’s all about setting up “story lines” and promoting their preferred talent.