Thu May 05 07:09pm EDT
In short, the NCAA tournament experience for college basketball fans watching on TV is taking a significant hit.
And it's a complete shame.
According to a Thursday story on SI.com, Gus Johnson, who in recent years has established himself as the guy everyone wants calling the end of a close game, will not be back with CBS.
The two sides failed to reach a new deal, ending a relationship that's been going strong since 1998. Johnson also worked as a play-by-play voice for CBS's NFL coverage, but became a cult icon among college basketball fans during the NCAA tournament over the past several seasons.
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch reports that Johnson was a candidate for the NFL Network's play-by-play job on its Thursday night broadcasts, but that gig went to ESPN's Brad Nessler. He's also spoken recently with FOX Sports regarding a spot covering college football.
One way or another, Johnson will be fine in the end, landing a high-profile job with someone, somewhere. Heck, he has a catch phrase popular enough — "Rise and Fire" — that it's now the name of Johnson's own clothing line.
Between his constant enthusiasm and outstanding signature calls late in games, Johnson long ago earned his way towards a promotion to a much more prominent spot on CBS's college hoops food chain.
That chance never came.
We don't know what happened during negotiations, and probably never will, but the outside perception, no matter how you cut it, is that CBS should have paid Johnson whatever he wanted in a new deal.
The problem now for CBS's NCAA tournament coverage is that this move takes away one of the total package's few unique components.
The NCAA tournament will still be just as viewed. One announcer leaving won't change that. But it just won't be the same.