And the reason is that Doug Towey is the man responsible for one of my most anticipated moments of every year: the inspiring sounds and thrilling video of the One Shining Moment that ends every NCAA Tournament.
Doug Towey passed away today at 61. There are probably many people out there, like me, for whom the name Doug Towey will not immediately ring a bell. But there cannot possibly be any fan of college basketball who has not been touched, inspired, and entertained by One Shining Moment, which will no doubt be one of Towey’s most enduring legacies.
As told earlier today by Tom Hoffrath at Farther off the Wall:
Folk singer David Barrett penned the song in 1986 and gave it to his high school friend CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent, and then Sports Illustrated staff writer, Armen Keteyian. He passed it along to Towey who planned to use it to accompany the network’s closing highlights of Super Bowl XXI in January 1987. But due to long-running interviews the song never made it to air.
A couple of months later, Towey was looking for a way to bring CBS Sports’ NCAA Tournament coverage to a close and decided to use it. “One Shining Moment” made its Final Four debut on March 30, 1987, following Keith Smart’s baseline jumper in the final seconds that gave Indiana a 74-73 victory over Syracuse.
And here is video of the very first appearance of One Shining Moment at the NCAA Tournament. I get goosebumps every time I watch this, the first and greatest One Shining Moment video of all.
The ball is tipped…and there you are…
One Shining Moment Video: 1987 (Indiana 5th National Championship)
Holy crap, it’s amazing how that video and that song can still give me chills after all these years. I realize I am biased, and that I like this particular One Shining Moment video over all of the others because it is from the last year when my Hoosiers won the title — but the truth is that they are all awesome, and all special, in their own way. Each One Shining Moment Video perfectly captures the magic, majesty, and magnificence of the greatest three weeks in sports.
I was only five years old when Keith Smart made the most famous shot in the history of Indiana basketball, and perhaps Big Ten basketball; and certainly one of the five or ten most famous shots in the history of college basketball. I have no specific recollection of watching Keith Smart make that shot live as it happened, but over the next six or seven years I popped my tape of the 1987 National Championship game into the VCR at least 15 or 20 times. I didn’t usually watch the whole game, but I would always watch Keith make that shot, watch he, Coach Knight and Steve Alford get interviewed after the game, and then cap it by singing along with One Shining Moment.
(Side note: And I will never, ever forget Don Fischer’s call of the Keith Smart shot, thanks to one of the greatest gifts ever: a framed picture of the shot with a display base that had a little button you could press to play Fischer’s call: “Out to Smart…baseline jumpshot in the air GOOOD! Four seconds, three seconds, two seconds, one…the Hoosiers have won the National Championship! And there is pandemonium…here at the Superdome as Indiana’s won it.“)
As I got older and become more and more obsessed with college basketball, and basketball in general, One Shining Moment became one of my favorite songs. The first reason, of course, is because of the incredible imagery, memories, and visceral feelings the song evokes, especially for a born and raised basketball junkie from the Hoosier State like me. The second reason is that it’s just a good damn song.
There have been plenty of remixed and revamped versions (Luther Vandross did one, video below), but nothing beats the original song used in 1987 for me. There is more than one burned CD from my high school college days that has One Shining Moment randomly thrown onto it — usually as the final song, where it should be.
So on the day of his passing, I just want to say thank you to Doug Towey for recognizing the greatness of David Barrett’s song and for creating one of the most sublime moments of the sports year.
Towey was a 34-year veteran of network television and “played a role in the broadcast of virtually every major sporting event in the world” according to the article by Tom Hoffrath linked above, so being responsible for One Shining Moment capping every NCAA Tournament is certainly not Towey’s only shining moment. But it is the one that I will always remember him for and be grateful to him and songwriter David Barrett for creating.
And speaking of Barrett, he certainly appears to have been quite certain of how good the song was from the second he wrote it. From the official website of One Shining Moment:
David comments about the writing of One Shining Moment:
“Writing this song changed my life. Strange how that is so. I mean; the writing came so effortlessly. I knew immediately after that I had something special on my hands. In fact I got up from the piano and went immediately to the phone and called a friend and said… “Glen I just wrote a great song.” It was almost like… “where did this come from?” In any case, the song opened all sorts of doors for me in a professional sense. But on a personal note, it also showed me to write about what mattered to me. I mean, I just wrote it because I thought it was worth writing. I learned to trust that. For years I had been listening to what others thought was valid. It was this song that made it clear to me that my job was to write about what I know, and tell the truth about that… Simple.”
And just in case you do not know them all by now, you can also see the lyrics for One Shining Moment at the website as well.
To close this post, here are two more One Shining Moment videos for you. The first is the most recent, from Kansas’ National Championship run in last year’s Tournament. The second is from 2003, when Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to its One Shining Moment. If you are looking for one in particular, just search YouTube and there is a good chance you will find it.
One Shining Moment Video: 2009 (North Carolina National Championship)
One Shining Moment Video: 2008 (Kansas National Championship)
One Shining Moment Video: 2003 (Syracuse National Championship)
I’m fairly certain that if I didn’t have other pressing things to attend to tonight that I would probably search for each video since 1987 and embed them all here. Do me a favor if you wish: put links to the videos for other years in the comment section, or just embed the video. Let’s get as many One Shining Moments in this post as possible — a last tribute to Doug Towey for making the final few minutes of the NCAA Tournament the most shining of all.
Update: The great folks over Cuzoogle have a post that shows the One Shining Moment videos from 1987, 1988, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and some other One Shining Moment parodies.