Courtside NCAA memories, No. 9: A Wild Weekend in Salt Lake City Back in 2003
Have you ever assisted in getting in a college team's radio announcer booted from an NCAA Tournament game?
Didn't think so.
Here's my story: It was first-day action of the 2003 NCAA Tournament sub-regional in Salt Lake City. I was minding my own press-row business covering Gonzaga vs. Cincinnati at the Huntsman Center. Of course, looking back, I should have known any game involving then-Bearcats coach Bob Huggins could spark a mini-riot.
As fate had it I was situated to the immediate right of the Cincinnati radio broadcast team at WLW-AM 700.
Early second-half the historically-combustible "Huggy" got hit with a technical foul--hardly a shock--arguing a traveling call made by referee Mike Kitts. Huggins (also not a shock) refused to behave and received a second technical, leading to his ejection.
Chuck Machock, the Bearcats' radio color analysis, took off his headset and waited for Kitts to get within earshot.
"That's a terrible call, you SOB, terrible," Machock screamed.
The officials didn't like that one bit and started a case against Machock.
The way I remember it is Machock vehemently denied cursing which only prompted the higher-ups to seek out the closest person to the scene to confirm, or deny.
That person was, gulp, me.
Never in my life did I expect to play a role in the ejection of a Cincinnati color analyst. My job was to stay neutral, right?
But I also felt I was bound by the truth. Did Machock call Kitts a SOB?
"Uh, yes," I said.
The powers that be convened and finally a University of Utah official approached Machock with his marching orders "The NCAA wants you gone."
Gonzaga won, 74-69. The double technical fouls on Huggins led to four made foul shots.
I figured nothing could top that Thursday craziness but was proven wrong two days later, Saturday, when Arizona topped Gonzaga, 96-95, in one of the three, four or five best college games I've ever seen.
It ended at the buzzer in double overtime when Gonzaga's Blake Stepp missed an eight-foot jumper that could have won it.
The game wasn't just great, it was clean, with the teams combining for only 20 turnovers in 50 minutes of action.
The schools left it all on the floor, at high altitude.
At the end of it all, Arizona forward Luke Walton summed it up, "I heard the horn blow and my body just gave out."
Where are they now:
Machock, who was Oscar Robertson's roommate when both played at Cincinnati, served 25 years as the school's color analyst for basketball.
He died in January at age 82.
Bob Huggins is still coaching basketball at his alma mater, West Virginia.