Don’t Expect Original Telecast When ESPN Airs 1966 Texas Western Championship Special
We learned yesterday that ESPN was planning a special retrospective on the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Texas Western championship. When ESPN first issued their media release on the rebroadcast, they claimed that Making History: The 1966 NCAA Championship - Texas Western vs. Kentucky would include the game's original television broadcast. They failed to realize that the actual telecast of the game has not been seen in 50 years. No television station in El Paso or the state of Kentucky kept the game on archive. In fact, the only reason that any form of the game still exists is because Don Haskins kept a grainy coach's scouting tape of his 1966 win over Kentucky in his office closet at UTEP.
In 2007, Thought Equity, who controlled the NCAA sports library, took the 1966 scouting film from the historic game and cleaned it up, making it HD quality. They also added the only surviving audio of the game, from legendary Kentucky announcer Claude Sullivan on the Standard Oil Network. The result was the most complete form of a game broadcast. The NCAA has been selling the DVDs since its release, and it is even available on Amazon for $10. Thought Equity renamed itself Wazee Digital and they claimed their broadcast was the original television airing of the game. However, ESPN and Wazee has since changed their stance in the official modified press release to include the Sullivan voiced version of the game and not the unseen national syndicated television broadcast from Sports Network Inc. Richard Sandomir, the longtime TV sports and business reporter for the New York Times even wrote a follow-up story once ESPN and Wazee backed off their claims that their version was the authentic game television broadcast from 1966.
Still, the ESPN feature will air tomorrow at 5:30pm in El Paso and will include the following elements:
• Saunders and Bilas: John Saunders and Jay Bilas will host a pregame, halftime and post-game studio element and be joined by Michael Wilbon who will provide his views and additional historical context.
• First Hand Account: Texas Western’s Dave Lattin – the starting center on the 1966 championship team – will be interviewed
• Iconic Photographs: Original photos, courtesy of former Sports Illustrated photographer Rich Clarkson, will be incorporated.
• President Obama: The President of the United States paid tribute to the team earlier this year and his message will be a part of the telecast.
• Additional Programming: On Wednesday, Outside the Lines (11:30 a.m.) and SportsCenter (4 p.m.) are expected to touch on the historic victory.
Even if the game broadcast is the same one that El Pasoans have seen for the last 10 years, it is still great that ESPN will give the Texas Western championship team some prime time coverage tomorrow and again on 9am Sunday April 3rd on ESPN2. Although many UTEP fans own a copy of the '66 title game in some form, most college basketball fans around the country have never seen the game in its entirety. That will change tomorrow night.