Sometimes these things happen in broadcasting….
SI.com has learned that CBS recently parted ways with Gus Johnson, a play-by-play mainstay on its college basketball coverage for 16 years, after the two sides could not agree on a new deal. Johnson has also worked as a play-by-play voice for the network’s NFL coverage since 1998.
Johnson’s animated style and signature calls at the conclusion of tournament games earned him cult status among younger college basketball fans. During his decade and a half with CBS, Johnson also called college football, track and field, boxing and the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The announcer was one of the candidates for the NFL Network’s play-by-play job on its eight-game Thursday night package. The network announced today that longtime ESPN announcer Brad Nessler had landed the assignment.
Industry sources said Johnson has spoken with Fox Sports about a role in its college football coverage. Fox Sports (which has a 49 percent ownership share in the Big Ten Network) recently upped its inventory of college football as part of the 12-year, $3 billion contract between the Pac-10 (soon to be the Pac-12) and ESPN and Fox. The two networks will carry a combined 44 regular-season football games on ESPN and Fox broadcast or national cable networks, along with 68 men’s basketball games. They will alternate televising the Pac-12 football championship game and the men’s basketball tournament.
No. Way. Gus Johnson is not going to be on March Madness and he could be going to the same network that somehow still employs Joe Buck as their #1 announcer. This is the biggest broadcasting story since Ian Darke moved to ESPN. I can’t believe this. He’s not a perfect announcer but his fan-like enthusiasm has made him a cult figure today on any sport he does.
I can’t stand him when he butchers boxing and MMA events but otherwise he’s entertaining to listen to and will be deeply missed at CBS. While it won’t leave a hole in their football coverage, it leaves a gaping one come March Madness 2012. Other than Kevin Harlan, no one matches his enthusiasm and passion for the game, particularly when there’s a Cinderella team involved.