Orange Watch: Dick Enberg and his connection to Syracuse

Enberg during his 28th and final Wimbledon

The official announcement this week (it was originally announced in August) that legendary Hall of Fame sportscaster Dick Enberg will come out of basketball play-by-play retirement (at age 77 he’s still the primary TV voice of MLB’s San Diego Padres) to call the Syracuse-San Diego State game aboard the USS Midway on Nov. 9, reminded us that perhaps Enberg TV broadcasts will also bookmark the Hall of Fame career of Jim Boeheim.

Enberg during his 28th and final Wimbledon

With the “R” word coming up in a recent story in which Boeheim had fun flirting around a definitive end date to retiring from his coaching career (we’ve stated for over a year that this will be the coach’s last season), if it indeed is the final season for the longtime boss, then Enberg will have called high profile SU games in Boeheim’s first and final seasons.

36 years apart!

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Enberg and longtime partner Billy Packer were courtside on March 13, 1977 in Baton Rouge at LSU’s Assembly Center broadcasting the inaugural year of expanded TV coverage of the NCAA Tournament’s first-round weekend.

Jim Boeheim’s first-ever NCAA game was against Tennessee’s high profile “Ernie and Bernie Show” (the Vols All American duo of Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King had starred for three seasons together) in game two of a first-ever Sunday afternoon doubleheader, a national NBC telecast.

We’ll always remember the shot of Boeheim, after excitedly answering questions from the broadcast duo about the 93-88 overtime victory keyed by the play of senior guard Larry Kelley, practically sprinting off the LSU court in one of his famous ‘70s plaid-type blazers, as Enberg just as excitedly heaped vocal praise on Boeheim and what his underdog Orangemen had just accomplished in closing down the “Ernie and Bernie Show” after its long Knoxville run.

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In classic fashion at just the right moment, and with just the right inflection, Enberg bellowed his famous trademark, “Oh my!”

Not only did Enberg call a Syracuse game in the Carrier Dome as part of NBC’s college basketball coverage as far back as 1986, consider the incredible list of other Hall of Fame (or close) level broadcasters who have also called games in the Dome’s 33-year history.

Start off with Curt Gowdy, Keith Jackson, Brent Musburger, Jim Nantz, and Don Criqui. Then add the Syracuse/Newhouse School fraternity of elite national talent such as Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Mike Tirico, Sean McDonough, Dick Stockton, and Len Berman.

Even Howard Cosell made a Dome appearance in 1985, several months before he was pulled from broadcasting that fall’s World Series for ABC.

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The combustible Cosell was in town to speak at the annual central New York Boy Scouts “Boy Power Dinner”, but sadly spent a good portion of the pre-speech availability session verbally jousting with local media sent to interview him, although it did make for good copy, audio, and video.

Practically every major national broadcaster in the last two generations plus except a Vin Scully, Pat Summerall, Al Michaels and Frank Gifford has been assigned to the Dome at one time or another.

Here’s one last Dick Enberg-Syracuse connection: The Dome was the site of his last CBS network broadcast with color analyst Jay Bilas, the 2010 NCAA East Regional final with West Virginia upsetting Kentucky.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.