CBS Ushers Out Old Generation With Packer

34 years is an historic run of broadcasting championship games. That’s 102 Final Four games, 34 Championship games. All good things come to an end, and well, Packer was no longer that good.

Let’s put that in perspective. Packer knows basketball, he can break down a coaching strategy with the best of them, something Dick Vitale should learn one day. Problem is he never changed with the times. Packer possessed a pompous attitude that came through in his broadcasts. He was stubborn, tackling controversial subjects with less tact than a professional wrestler. In today’s world, that emphasizes political correctness, Packer was a sad reminder of the way things used to be, constantly feeding into stereotypes, then making contrived apologies. Aggravation CBS did not need.

In full disclosure, I did not enjoy Packer as a broadcaster. In fact, I could never figure out why they stuck with him in the spot with such a strong arsenal of analysts sitting behind him. Too many times I felt Packer made the game about him. His delivery gave off a negative aura. Maybe it was his tone, or the the fact he doesn’t have the same excitement that other analysts bring, but he always seemed to look for something negative. He erred toward criticism, not praise. The broadcasting game passed him by. I can’t name one person younger than 30 that actually enjoys Billy Packer.

Still, he called games at the side of three legendary broadcasters – Dick Enberg, Brent Musburger, and Jim Nantz. Behind the scenes he did a lot for the game of college basketball, and, though it may not come through in his broadcasting, he genuinely cares about the game and the players.

One note on CBS, if they made this decision because of his “this game is over” comment in the National Semifinal when Kansas was torching UNC in the first half they made a huge mistake. They teach you to avoid that statement in broadcasting 101, but honestly, I don’t need Billy Packer to tell me the game was over. I thought it was too. I stayed tuned in to see if they could make an unbelieveable comeback. I guarantee not one person turned this game off because of that comment. The big college basketball fans – and the bettors – stayed with it. Those who switched, changed channels because it was a blowout, not because Packer told them to. It just gave CBS another reason to pull the trigger.

On Clark Kellogg, he’s a solid analyst, not a bad choice, but is he the best choice. I think Bill Raftery is a relic and Jay Bilas is an emergin star in the analyst position, who really knows the game. Like him or not, next March will feel and sound different.


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