February 16, 2011
Even two years removed from calling his last college basketball game, former analyst Billy Packer is still as cranky as ever.
College basketball's most famous curmudgeon told USA Today on Tuesday that he doesn't approve of the way CBS and Turner Sports plan to handle NCAA tournament coverage going forward. Here are his three main complaints, the first two of which are somewhat reasonable and the last of which is bordering on ridiculous.
• Packer believes the NCAA's decision to award the rights to air the tournament to CBS and Turner was a money grab that is not in the best interest of the sport. Had the NCAA been looking out for college basketball's best interest, he believes it ought to have gone with ESPN, which has a stable of college basketball announcers familiar with the sport and is better capable of promoting the tournament. "I don't believe I was in a promo for CBS college basketball in 25 years," he said.
• Even before TNT's NBA analysts make their debut during next month's NCAA tournament coverage, Packer fears for the worst. He's not optimistic about Steve Kerr joining Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg in a three-man Final Four booth or about Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith analyzing games from the studio. Packer likened it to having Verne Lundquist call SEC football all season "and then having somebody who just did the pros come in to call the SEC title game."
• Only Packer could find a reason to complain about every NCAA tournament game airing live in its entirety for the first time this season. He argued viewers will prefer the old format of being automatically switched to whichever game was most exciting. Packer said he didn't see the value in airing every matchup at staggered times on separate channels even though it will enable viewers not to miss games that previously did not air in their market. "What percentage of the total audience does that represent," Packer said. "Has all this been changed for the .01 percent of viewers who really want a specific game?"
As you can probably guess based on his criticism, Packer has zero interest in trying to get CBS to rehire him as an analyst.
"The game has regressed incredibly in the last 10 years, at all levels and the coaches know it," Packer said. "It's a different world and to do a good job you'd have to buy into it. That's why I couldn't do it anymore."
So in addition to disagreeing with all the changes to the TV coverage, Packer doesn't even like college basketball anymore? Yep, sounds about right.
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