Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Tourney is Missing Its Heart

As I've been watching the NCAA tournament and seeing the pretty good first and second round games (screw the NCAA calling the play-in games the first round), I've noticed one huge glaring omission: Gus Johnson. Gus Johnson could make a casual fan absolutely entranced by a game between 12 and 13 seeds.  The audience would hang on every word of Gus because he cared about what he was broadcasting. He actually got excited about exciting games as opposed to Joe Buck who stays even keeled throughout the entire ballgame. Here is a series of calls from Joe Buck during the 2011 NFL Playoff run. Here is Gus calling the Pac 10 Championship Game from 2011.  Which one sucks you in immediately? The Gus call of course.

Now some may say that Gus lucks out and has all of these amazing moments fall into his lap. I beg to differ. The Law of Gus was so brilliantly defined by one of my favorite sports writers Bill Simmons. It just seemed that no matter where Gus was, a great game was going to happen. Gus was able to have so many iconic NCAA Tourney games happen during his broadcasts that there was an active internet movement to have Gus broadcast the Final Four instead of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg. Gus is a fan who realizes how lucky he is to broadcast from sporting events that we all want to be at. 

Now there were rumors that Nantz became threatened by Gus' popularity and it led CBS to be cautious with resigning Gus to a big contract. But there is a reason that Gus' voice is used for Buffalo Wild Wings commercials, the voice of the Madden franchise, and a Gus Johnson soundboard that can brighten the day of any sports fan. 

With the loss of Gus Johnson from the NCAA Tournament, the NCAA has lost its heart. 

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