Click here for a long piece discussing the announcement of Caulton Tudor’s retirement.
Caulton Tudor, whose sports columns for The News & Observer and Raleigh Times have informed and entertained readers for more than 40 years, is retiring.
Tudor, 65, has been a fixture in ACC press boxes and press rows since 1969. His opinions and analysis, from typewriter days to the laptop age, have been a constant voice of the newspapers’ sports pages, offering time-honored perspective.
“Caulton is an ACC and North Carolina sports writing institution,” UNC basketball coach Roy Williams said.
Tudor will retire March 1, ending a run with the Raleigh Times and The News & Observer that has included 6,000 sports columns, 40 ACC tournaments, 24 NCAA Final Fours and innumerable memories.
“For Caulton Tudor, he has been the ACC,” Krzyzewski said. “There are not many people who have been here longer than me and he was here long before I was. He’s really given his life to covering the ACC.
I must say that I am surprised that Tudor is retiring before the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Tournaments. That timing and the comments below about thinking he can still write certainly makes me wonder how voluntary the timing of the retirement may be.
Regardless, I always hate to see someone of Tudor’s experience and historical knowledge base back away from the game. All it does is open room for more snotty-nosed, snarky writers of the new generation that mistakenly think that Michael Jordan has to be the greatest basketball player in ACC history and if you don’t wear the color blue then you must be third class citizens.
I think too many State fans may make the mistake of lumping Tudor and his work into the bag with true N&O villans like Micky McCarthy, Claude Sitton and Frank Daniels. After reading and appreciating Tudor’s work since those jokers rode off into the sunset I firmly believe that he deserves to be looked at in a much different light.
Tudor was in Greensboro in 1974 when N.C. State outlasted Maryland in the classic ACC championship game. He was in New Orleans in 1982 when Michael Jordan’s jumper won an NCAA title for North Carolina. He was in The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. when Dereck Whittenburg’s air ball was dunked by Lorenzo Charles and N.C. State won it all.
Tudor covered Jim Valvano at N.C. State, trading quips with Coach V. He covered Smith at UNC, slipping Smith a postgame cigarette from time to time. He covered the rise and fall of UNC football coach Butch Davis.
“For 44 years, he consistently and skillfully turned out insightful stories and columns, often under extreme pressure,” said A.J. Carr, a former N&O writer and colleague.
Tudor calls Charles’ championship-winning dunk the most memorable moment of his career, but says Gio Bernard’s game-winning punt return for UNC against N.C. State last fall may be a close second. As for the most embarrassing, he says he once was imitating former UNC football coach Mack Brown, only to turn and see Brown was in the room.
“But then Mack goes, ‘Caulton, that’s pretty good,’ ” Tudor said.
A special moment for Tudor was receiving the Skeeter Francis Award at the 2012 ACC basketball tournament. The award is given annually for significant contributions to the coverage of ACC athletics. It’s named for the former assistant ACC commissioner who was a good friend of Tudor’s until his death in 2004.
But regardless of the work: blogging and tweets and rewrites and long hours, Tudor has never lost his humor. He always has the right line to ease the tension, to make his peers smile.
Once, at a N.C. State-UNC football game, Tudor overheard an editor ask a writer at the end of the third quarter, “If the game ended right now, what would the lead to your story be?” The writer mumbled something about turnovers and rushing yards, and the editor walked off.
Tudor leaned over to deadpan, “In the most startling development in ACC football history, a game was called after the third quarter. …”
John Drescher, executive editor of The News & Observer, calls Tudor “one of those people who really is the backbone of the N&O.”
“Nobody knows more about the ACC than he does,” Drescher said. “He knows the people, he knows the history, he knows the state. He really cares about his readers and he really cares about ACC sports, and that all comes through in his work.”
Drescher says Tudor could decide to return at some point to write occasional columns for the newspaper.
“I hope that will happen. We’re going to miss him,” Drescher said. “What we bring on our beats is expertise. That’s what really distinguishes The N&O, expertise, and Caulton has tremendous football and basketball expertise. That’s why he’s so widely read.”
Tudor says he hopes to keep working, keep writing, keep being read.
“Nothing lasts forever,” he said. “The world is full of former newspaper people looking to write, and I think I can still write.