Once again NCAA tournament time is here (the nation’s single greatest sporting event, IMHO), and once again the University of South Carolina is on the outside looking in. The good news in that is this – I can sit back and enjoy the splendor and the spectacle without all the hand-wringing and expletive shouting that comes along with watching Gamecock basketball.
It also means I can renew acquaintances with the best play-by-play man in the business, and the voice of the NCAA Tournament (sorry, Jim Nantz): Gus Johnson.
Johnson was able to get his pipes warmed up during the PAC-10 tournament this weekend, and during the final, in overtime, he was in top form.
Cold blooded indeed.
I watched that game, then went to YouTube and googled some of Johnson’s greatest NCAA moments -Gonzaga-UCLA, Vermont-Syracuse, Xavier-Ohio State and Gonzaga-Florida (“the slipper stillll fits!”) among others. Then I went to Twitter and saw that I was not the only member of the Gus Johnson fan club.
One tweet even suggest something I had never thought of – when Verne Lundquist retires, Johnson should take his place on the CBS Saturday afternoon SEC broadcast.
Brilliant idea, and I am 100% behind it. Johnson brings the best balance of neutrality and excitement to his games that I have ever heard. He genuinely loves the games he has the pleasure to call. Can you imagine him calling the 2010 USC-Alabama, LSU-Tennessee or Auburn-Alabama games? Why not bring the most excitable man in the broadcast booth to the most excitable fan base in the country?
The naysayers will point out he has no connection to football in the South -he has been the voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks in the NBA, the lead announcer for boxing on Showtime, and has done the NFL on CBS (if you’re concerned about his ability to call football, just watch this.) I say who cares. The man can calls a great game and has no loyalties.
Others will say he’s TOO excitable. I will agree he pushed the boundaries on occasion with his wild screams, but in the end that only adds to the fun he brings to the broadcasts.
It will be a sad day when Verne hangs up the mike, but I can think of no better replacement than Gus Johnson.