Even though the voice of March Madness won't be calling any more NCAA tournament buzzer beaters anytime soon, college basketball fans will still be able to get a small dose of Gus Johnson during the regular season.
As part of his newly announced deal with FOX Sports, Johnson will call 30 games as the lead college basketball play-by-play-voice for the Big Ten Network. FOX Sports president Eric Shanks said Johnson will also have a role in calling the Pac-12 tournament on FOX, though it's unclear whether he'll be part of any of the league's regular-season broadcasts on the network.
That Johnson will still have a presence in college basketball is little consolation to fans irate that CBS failed to reach an agreement with him that would have kept him calling NCAA tournament games. Johnson instead will focus mostly on the gridiron at FOX, where he will call some NFL games and also team with analyst Charles Davis to form the network's lead college football announce pairing.
The New York Daily News reported Monday that some of CBS Sports' college basketball voices were not thrilled with Johnson's surging popularity and that "politics" were a factor in the network's decision to let him go. The paper did not name any names, but it's not a huge leap to assume the story was implying that lead CBS college basketball play-by-play voice Jim Nantz may have felt threatened by repeated calls for Johnson to replace him.
Regardless of what the reasons behind the decision, it's clear CBS made a very shortsighted decision letting Johnson escape.
There are very few national play-by-play guys so beloved that fans tune in just to hear them call a big game. In college basketball circles, Johnson had achieved that level of popularity.
- college basketball