INDIANAPOLIS — He’s disappearing proper earlier than our eyes, diminishing himself one merciless rant or offensive tweet or outright lie at a time. He’s greatest now on the flawed type of self-promotion, creating an argument of his personal making, then one other, then one other.
When he’s gone from the general public eye, we’ll bear in mind Dan Dakich as one of many strangest, saddest tales in Indianapolis’ sports activities historical past. And we’ll bear in mind him that manner for 2 causes:
One, sure, he has been an outsized Indiana presence for 31 years; this story gained’t do what Dakich does and deny uncomfortable truths. He performed after which labored 12 years for legendary Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight. He left for Bowling Inexperienced in 1997, returned in 2007 underneath Kelvin Sampson, and changed Sampson as interim coach for the ultimate seven video games. He as soon as had the preferred sports-talk radio present on the town, and has been on air at Emmis Communications since 2008.
Oh sure, we’ll bear in mind Dan Dakich.
STAY UP-TO-DATE: Subscribe to our Sports newsletter now!
However, two, we are going to bear in mind most his unraveling, essentially the most spectacular a part of his story. And his basketball story is spectacular, maybe deserving a spot within the Indiana Basketball Corridor of Fame, although his HOF absence isn’t any thriller. Candidates should be nominated and then presented to the IBHOF board, and apparently no person desires to appoint Dakich, a lot much less argue on his behalf.
Just a few years in the past I advised Dakich I’d nominate him for the IBHOF and current his case. We have been buddies then. Like, shut. I advised Dan a few of my deepest secrets and techniques, and he advised me a few of his. For years I defended Dakich to IndyStar colleagues he’d ripped, to IndyStar readers he’d disillusioned, to mutual buddies in basketball he’d disgusted.
That’s simply his radio persona, I’d inform of us. You don’t know him like I do. “Coronary heart of gold,” I used to say about Dan Dakich.
Was I flawed? Maybe. But in addition, he has modified. We’ve all seen it. ESPN dropped him final yr as a nationwide basketball analyst for a motive. His native scores have plummeted for a motive. He felt the necessity to delete his Twitter account final yr for a motive.
The rationale: He’s disintegrating, proper earlier than our eyes.
That is the story I by no means wished to jot down, as a result of as soon as upon a time I noticed the very best in Dakich. I don’t see it anymore. His greatest is gone, changed by the caricature he created and has change into, although he’s within the means of erasing it, and himself, one appalling act at a time.
You do not know him like I do.
So, our background.
It was natural, the way in which I fell for Dakich about 15 years in the past. I used to be at CBSSports.com, a hothead ripping school basketball coaches left and proper, and Dakich was the coach at Bowling Inexperienced. I nonetheless bear in mind assembly him on the Nike recruiting camp in Indianapolis, the place coaches from across the nation congregated and acted vital. I disliked a lot of them, on sight.
Dakich introduced his son, Andrew, a little bit child with an enormous smile. Dan didn’t act vital. I appreciated him, on sight.
Just a few months later I drove from my dwelling close to Cincinnati to Bowling Inexperienced to play golf with him, and write about it. We performed collectively in a best-ball match towards a two-man group that includes BGSU golf coach Garry Winger, and we gained with out counting any of my pictures. Dakich shot 1-under that day to win the match by himself. Winger, who’d performed two years on the Canadian Tour, handed me a $20 invoice. Undecided who was extra mortified, Winger or me.
Dakich and I stayed in contact, by textual content principally. He went from BGSU to Sampson’s workers at Indiana, then into native radio. I used to be an everyday visitor, unpaid, as a result of I appreciated speaking with him. Got here right here in 2014, didn’t have a spot to remain, and Dakich provided me a brief spot in certainly one of his spare rooms in Zionsville, Indiana. I didn’t take him up on it, however severely, he did that. By then Dakich had change into a radio blowtorch, however when folks advised me they couldn’t perceive why I appreciated him, I’d say: You don’t know him like I do.
A number of years in the past Dakich was provided a one-time talking gig at Crooked Stick Golf Membership in Carmel, Indiana. He advised these of us he’d do it, however provided that they introduced me as effectively and paid me $500. Crooked Stick agreed, and afterward Dakich advised we type a talking group. It by no means materialized, however I liked the concept.
We had deep conversations. He agonized over a suggestion from a radio station in Chicago. I agonized, within the throes of divorce and despair, about being a nasty partner, untrue 20 years earlier in North Carolina with a girl from the neighborhood.
We in contrast notes on nervousness. I advised him I might been taking Lexapro, and that I noticed a lot of my CBSSports.com persona in him — emotional, borderline uncontrolled, enjoying to the bottom widespread denominator — and advised he discover a approach to settle down, to melt simply sufficient of his edge to protect towards self-immolation.
No want, he advised me. He had it underneath management.
That was earlier than he was suspended regionally for a failure “to stick to the journalistic ideas valued by Emmis,” and later let go nationally by ESPN after a separate controversy. That was earlier than he mocked the appearance of a young Iowa State fan — an amputee who had not too long ago died — on Twitter. And earlier than he briefly deleted his Twitter account after one other controversial tweet: belittling a college professor in Pennsylvania for her stance on paying school athletes, then suggesting she wished to sleep with him.
That was earlier than his self-immolation started raging uncontrolled, a hearth nonetheless burning in the present day.
Now I inform folks: I don’t know Dan Dakich in any respect.
Dan Dakich’s public deterioration
We’ve performed a positive job reporting Dakich’s controversies through the years. No want to jot down extra right here, past the references above. Dakich doesn’t suppose the eye from the IndyStar is truthful, however bullies by no means do. They throw sucker punches, and whine when somebody fires again. His followers eat it up, however followers do as they’re advised.
Dakich always brags about his stature, his omnipotence, his present’s reputation — a number of the gross exaggerations he tends to make — however claims to not perceive the information worth regionally when a former Indiana coach/distinguished radio host does one thing that makes headlines nationally.
Someplace alongside the way in which Dakich, a humble and charming rascal when he coached little Bowling Inexperienced, fell in love with the sound of his voice on air. He loves his Twitter sycophants, retweeting the small handful of people that reward him — not seeing how transparently pathetic that’s — and mistaking the big hatred he attracts as relevance. Is a cockroach on the countertop related? No, it’s disgusting and folks react strongly.
Some perception into native radio: Stations obtain the scores of each present available in the market, and workers are discouraged strongly from sharing that knowledge with outsiders. In eight years right here I’ve been advised the scores of only one native host, Dakich, however I hear them on a regular basis as a result of opponents and even Emmis colleagues through the years have loved his shrinking attain. They perceive, as do most of us, that Dan Dakich is unhealthy for the picture of Indianapolis.
Rankings are divided into micro-categories, and a talented talker like Dakich can choose and select numbers to recommend in any other case, however his reputation is collapsing and insiders comprehend it.
Every little thing about Dakich is collapsing. Emmis Communications, in the process of selling its Indianapolis stations to Urban One, hosted “A Night time within the Fan Cave” final month on the Indiana Historic Society, with sports-talk hosts Dakich, JMV, Kevin Bowen and Jake Question on stage in a relaxed setting. Undecided how, however Emmis has stored this quiet till in the present day: With City One officers in attendance, Dakich advised two tasteless jokes I am unable to even start to wash up right here, jokes that mortified his new bosses.
For months Dakich has been revealing his true character, one episode at a time. So insightful about basketball and the interior workings of a group, he now fancies himself a political speaking head, including a second day by day present on a right-wing radio station that focuses on conspiracy theories, half-truths, outright lies and hate. His handful of supporters inform Dakich he is smart, and he believes it.
It may be intoxicating, crossing a line and being cheered by strangers to maintain going, and I say that from my CBSSports.com expertise. Whereas I’m being private once more, let me reply your query:
Why I am penning this now.
For years I’ve wanted, however not wished, to jot down about Dakich. Many causes for that, however primarily compassion as he publicly circles the drain. His collapse has been stunning and troubling, together with the way in which he makes use of his charitable acts for youths, and even the children themselves, as human shields. I’ve not wished to pile on.
Additionally, there’s no upside to hopping into the slop with a pig. The largest bully on the town makes use of his radio present as the final word bully pulpit, swinging down at on a regular basis listeners who critique him on Twitter – unleashing his supporters to assault on his behalf – or airing his years-long insecurity that Jay Bilas is ESPN’s hottest analyst.
“Why am I getting bumped by (Dick) Vitale and Bilas to do the Indiana-Purdue sport?” Dakich lamented on air in September.
Dakich is comfy within the mud and can reply to this story on his present. That’s his proper, however it’s disconcerting given his documented historical past of distorting the reality or just mendacity. He makes use of the greatness of former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, for instance, to prop up his hapless buddy, former Colts common supervisor Ryan Grigson. After his tweets about that school professor drew the wrath of ESPN in April 2021, Dakich advised listeners: “I don’t know if ESPN is going to have me back. I assume they won’t.”
5 months later, out of that job, Dakich spun the split-up like so: “That was as much my choice as their alternative.”
Final week Dakich advised listeners he by no means known as a child in Scottsburg, Indiana, “a meth head,” maybe assuming his model of occasions would maintain up as a result of the station has deleted that clip from March 2020. That wasn’t the primary time Emmis had deleted a few of his audio. In October 2018, when his commentary on Indiana’s recruiting of Romeo Langford introduced the specter of a lawsuit, Emmis deleted the audio, suspended him for 5 days and issued the remark about his failure “to adhere to (our) journalistic principles.”
Again to that Scottsburg rant, when Dakich mentioned the Indiana city was stuffed with “meth and AIDS and needles” and urged listeners to “take a dump” in Scottsburg. Dakich denied calling a child “a meth head” final week, however an IndyStar reporter has a replica of the March 2020 audio and shared it on Twitter to set the file straight.
So is that why I’m penning this story, now? Truthfully, sure. As a result of sufficient’s sufficient. Examine that tweet from my colleague. See the replies, see what number of native residents Dakich has gone after from his perch as an Indiana basketball coach-turned-radio host with 150,000 Twitter followers. That is a fraction of the fights this spiteful bully has picked through the years. Sufficient.
As for me, effectively, mine is a novel job in a novel market – celebrating locals for his or her successes, holding accountable our distinguished sports activities figures for his or her failures – and for years it has embarrassed me, frankly, to have ignored Dakich’s mean-spirited public deterioration.
Prefer it or not, Dakich stays certainly one of our most distinguished sports activities figures. He retains failing, plumbing new depths, preaching to a shrinking choir and listening to their hosannahs and complicated himself with a maverick or a person of braveness.
This isn’t a courageous man, however a small one getting smaller. And as Dan Dakich chips away at himself, he chips away on the quantity of people that will miss him when he’s gone.
This text initially appeared on Indianapolis Star: Dan Dakich is disintegrating one tweet, rant, controversy at a time