08 February 2012

Who will replace Gus Johnson on NCAA Tournament games for CBS/Turner?

The NCAA Tournament sans Gus Johnson? This was my reaction. So many memories, so many classic calls, many trips to Heartbreak City. How could this happen, it was a perfect marriage.

So after it was announced that Johnson was leaving CBS and heading for FOX, it became clear the he was not going to do March Madness, the first tournament without him since 1995, which had Doc Emrick calling games for them. So who will replace him for the CBS/Turner consortium?

What makes finding a replacement for Johnson difficult is that most of the teams lower than his normal crew, he has mostly been the fourth crew which meant he called a regional, have been together for a while. Kevin Harlan has worked, with the exception of 2007 when James Brown called a regional with Len Elmore while Johnson worked only the first weekend with Dan Bonner, with Bonner since 2004. Ian Eagle has worked with Jim Spanarkel on every NCAA Tournament he has done for CBS, which is since 1998. Tim Brando has worked with Mike Gminski since 2004. And it also possible that maybe they will not bring Elmore back, which would be a shame because he is really good and has a long history working at CBS even though it has been tournament only since 2003 and if they keep someone awful like Reggie Miller, who was terrible in last year's tournament, it will hurt their announcing talent. It isn't unprecented because they had a similar deal with Jay Bilas, arguably one of the elite analysts in the game, who called tourneys with CBS from 2003-2010.

So who will replace Johnson on the fourth crew? Here are possibilities:

  • Kevin Harlan
    • Harlan has been working on the fifth crew for several years now. And him working on the fourth crew would make sense if they have Miller working with this crew on the second weekend like last year since Harlan is his partner on the NBA on TNT. Miller could feasibly join this crew for the whole tourney and if Elmore is not brought back he'd make for a logical move up to give Turner two regional crews. Plus he got passed over by the next guy on the NFL pecking order so maybe they'll throw him a bone
  • Ian Eagle
    • Eagle was passed ahead of Harlan on the NFL pecking order so could they do that here? He also works some NBA Playoffs games on TNT so kinda one of their guys, probably a future regular of their NBA coverage, who be in the mix. And if Elmore does not return, moving up him and Spanarkel, they've worked together for a long time not just on college hoops but for Nets games, would make sense as well.
  • Greg Gumbel
    • Not as likely considering he has been seen in the promos as one of the hosts, as he has hosted for many years, but would result in the least amount of shifting plus he's a big name and would make sense calling a regional. Like I said probably not very likely but it's a possibility. 
  • Dick Stockton
    • Now I know, sounds ridiculous and it is. But it could happen. Back when he worked for CBS did regionals for many years for them and still does his fair share of NBA games for TNT.
  • Outside hire
    • Not sure whom but maybe CBS/Turner brings in somebody.
Now if CBS promotes either Harlan or Eagle (anybody else getting promoted would be very surprising), somebody would have to be brought in. In that scenario, along with possibly Stockton from above:
  • Dave Ryan
    • The lead announcer for the CBS Sports Network. He has only done a few events for CBS, filled in once when Johnson missed an NFL telecast and a couple of women's college hoops games.
  • Andrew Catalon
    • Seems to be the next Spero Dedes for CBS, in that he's a young hire. He substituted for Bill Macatee on an NFL telecast this year and has done some work for their website at the Masters for them. Do not know of any basketball experience. (UPDATE: Catalon will not be doing any games).
  • Don Criqui
    • Criqui has been doing a decent slate of hoops games this year on CBS Sports Network and while he probably can't do four games in a day, or maybe he could, he could split games with say Ryan. And if he is thinking about retiring it gives him a big event to go out on. 
  • Bill Macatee
    • Very doubtful but has done tournament games for them before in 1996.
  • Outside hire
Whatever CBS/Turner decides to do, time is beginning to run out. Note that last year the tournament announcers were announced in early January and the Madness is about a month away. So we shall see. 

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