Saturday, August 27, 2005

Enberg's Book "Oh My!" Discusses GOTC

I've referred in a number of my previous postings to Dick Enberg, the television play-by-play announcer for the Game of the Century. In 2004, Enberg published a book of memoirs, appropriately enough entitled Oh My!, after his signature exclamation. Within the chapter about his days announcing UCLA basketball, Enberg spends a couple of pages on the Bruins' 1968 match-up with the Houston Cougars in the Game of the Century at the Astrodome.

Enberg makes a point that, in retrospect, seems obvious. But, I don't believe I'd ever heard anyone make it before:

Despite the buildup, if UCLA had won by 10 or 15 points, it would have been just another big game (p. 77).

He continues:

[UCLA Coach John] Wooden hates it when I say this, but for history, the right team won. The underdog won and won at home, giving the telecast a roaring crowd of nearly 53,000 fans to heighten the drama. And it was close all the way, decided with 28 seconds left on a pair of free throws by [Elvin] Hayes, "the Big E," bringing the final score to 71-69.

Enberg sees the game as a peak within his personal career ("From a historical perspective, I feel it's the most important sports event I've ever called," p. 76) and within the history of college basketball:

Most experts point to the Michigan State-Indiana State NCAA title game in 1979 -- Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird -- as the game that helped boost college basketball into the stratosphere. I disagree. I called that one, too, so I don't say this out of bias. UCLA-Houston, 11 years earlier, was the game that really showed the world how big college basketball could be. That was the skyrocket (pp. 77-78).

Two other pieces of GOTC trivia from Enberg's summary:

It was "the first national prime-time telecast of a college basketball game" (p. 77).

Enberg broadcasted the game with Bob Pettit.