Truly “Heartbreak City!!” Gus Officially Leaves CBS…

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2011

Ok, maybe we’re being a little melodramatic, but with the news that Gus Johnson is officially moving on to Fox Sports and the knowledge that CBS/Turner has the broadcast rights to the NCAA Tournament through 2024 (a/k/a eternity), we’re feeling like some sinister executive grinch has canceled Christmas next year.   And the year after.  And the next one.  And the one after that… well, you get the point.

So long, Gus.  For the generation that was raised on March Madness as a national treasure, you will always be the voice of college basketball — far more than that green-jacket-slurping bore Jim Nantz could ever be.  We hope that you are given just as much freedom to bring  your purity of excitement and unadulterated joy to college sports over at your new gig, and you can count on us checking out some Big Ten (on BTN) and Pac-12 (on FSN) hoops next season just to hear you work your magic again.

In the meantime, here are a couple of compilations we found of Gus’ best work.  Enjoy it — it pains us to type this, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever hear it during March Madness again.

Share this story

Gus Johnson and CBS, Together No More

Posted by jstevrtc on May 5th, 2011

Richard Deitsch of has reported that play-by-play icon Gus Johnson and CBS could not come to terms on a new contract and have thus parted ways. No more Gus Johnson buzzer-beaters at NCAA Tournament time, folks.

Yeah, This Makes Total Sense.

According to Mr. Deitsch, Johnson has been in talks with Fox Sports to work college football games, given the network’s move to increase their profile in that sport. There is no mention as to whether Gus’ position calling college basketball for the Big Ten Network is affected by this. As Deitsch points out, Fox owns a nice big chunk of the BTN, and they’re also (obviously) a player in the recent deal between themselves, ESPN, and the Pac-10, a package that includes 68 college basketball games.

Johnson is by far CBS’ most popular announcer. Again…it is not close. The convnetional wisdom among college basketball fans was that the network would and should only work to increase Johnson’s presence wherever they could, especially when it comes to college basketball, and it would do anything possible to keep him. His departure has hoopheads everywhere wondering what on earth CBS could be thinking, though admittedly we haven’t heard either side of the story, and no details of the failed negotiations are mentioned in Mr. Deitsch’s article.

Nevertheless, college hoopheads are left with no Gus Johnson for March Madness. We’re certain he’ll be around, and we’re praying someone at Turner will scoop him up and find a way to get him back where he belongs by Tournament time, because March won’t be the same until he’s calling Tournament games again. If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go transfer our old The Cure CDs to MP3 and listen to them until we’re dehydrated. Life is unfair.


Share this story

While A Nation Celebrates Jacob Pullen Sulks

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2011

Like all of you we spent most of Sunday night and Monday morning celebrating the announcement by President Obama that US troops had killed Osama bin Laden. We spent the night transfixed by our television, the scenes across the nation, and the celebrations on Twitter. It turns out that not everyone was in a celebratory mood. Case in point former Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen:

Pullen’s Twitter account was bombarded by comments from others (like us) who were critical of his comments, but it was pretty clear that Pullen did not mind as the following series of Tweets clearly demonstrates.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story Alleges Impermissible Calls From Former Calipari Aide

Posted by jstevrtc on April 2nd, 2011

On Friday evening, writers Jeff Goodman and Thayer Evans released a story alleging that Bilal Batley, a former staff member at both Memphis and Kentucky, made what the NCAA would consider impermissible contact in the form of cell phone calls to recruits while employed by John Calipari at both programs. The FOX story specifically names former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins and class of 2012 recruit L. J. Rose, as well as numerous current and former  players who ended up attending various schools, as  having been contacted by Batley, going back as far as Batley’s time as a graduate manager under Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. As the story explains, only a program’s head coach or three “countable” coaches are allowed to make phone calls to recruits. Batley was not so designated at Indiana, Memphis, or during his six months at Kentucky.

Batley Was Calipari's Director of Basketball Ops/Manager At Memphis and Kentucky

Before last season began, we posted a story about how Batley left his position of Director of Basketball Operations/Manager at Kentucky (the same position he held at Memphis) when it was revealed that he had been involved in a minor rules violation a few months into his job. Batley shagged some rebounds for a player during a brief stop in the practice gym, and his job description did not permit such an interaction. Kentucky self-reported the violation. Nothing came of it, and nothing should have. What we considered odd, though, was that Batley soon afterward announced he was leaving his job in Lexington. He cited an ill family member back in Houston as the reason for his departure, even though his post at Kentucky — a rather plum gig, to be sure — would have been protected by law in the event that it was a first-degree relative who was ill, meaning Batley could have come back to that job if he chose to do so after the family member’s illness had resolved. We assumed that Batley’s reasons were his own and that his hand was not forced, because no link was ever found between Batley’s leaving and the incredibly minor violation. Like the rest of the world, we let the matter rest, and simply hoped everything worked out for the best regarding the illness in Batley’s family.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

CBS Dumps Jennifer Hudson for Luther Vandross

Posted by nvr1983 on March 31st, 2011

Our long national nightmare is over. Ok, maybe it was only one year, but CBS has announced that it had decided to go back to the more “traditional” Luther Vandross version of “One Shining Moment” after using Jennifer Hudson’s version last year. While fans and critics widely panned Hudson’s version for the artistic liberties she took with the song and the fact that the video featured several clips of her instead of basketball footage CBS was more kind in their assessment of her version. Harold Bryant, the vice president of production for CBS Sports, stated “Both versions are great. She [Hudson] did a great job. We just felt like we wanted to go back to Luther.”

The Vandross version is one of four (including Hudson’s) that have been used since the song was used at the end of the NCAA Tournament in 1987. The two other renditions are from its songwriter David Barrett (1987-1993) and Teddy Pendergrass (1994-1999). With this year being the 25th anniversary of the song’s introduction it appears to be an especially appropriate time to bring back the Vandross version of the song.

Share this story

SNL’s March Madness Spoof

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

In case you missed it over the weekend, Saturday Night Live spoofed CBS’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show with a five-minute skit where they broke down brackets for the Actual Madness (as opposed to the March kind), “the tournament to determine who is the craziest person in the world.”  It’s not the funniest thing we’ve ever watched on that show, nor is it the worst, but the Jim Nantz “golf whisper” quip and the Charlie Sheen bit are respectably funny.  We won’t be offended if you only watch the first twenty seconds of it before turning to something else, but we felt obligated to make sure those of us who were completely inundated by hoops over the weekend have the option.  Here it is:

Share this story

NCAA First/Second Round Tip Times Released

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

It’s always exciting to see when the tip times comes out on Sunday night after the NCAA Tournament field is announced.  As you can see below, every game will be televised live, so there’ll be no more of a need to wait on Greg Gumbel to move you around to the better game.  If you haven’t already moved four TVs into your living room for next weekend, we can only assume that you’re: a) lazy; or b) waiting on the other flat screens to arrive.  Either way, get on this, and soon.  You’ll also note the new staggered tip times throughout the day so that there will literally be games on for 12-13 consecutive hours — this is also known as heaven.  Enjoy.

Share this story

UConn Asks That You Kindly Keep The Noise Down

Posted by nvr1983 on February 23rd, 2011

Over the years we have heard a lot of stories about fans (particularly parents of young children at games) and school administrations (even at Duke) getting on the student section for their crude language and poor behavior, but we have never heard about students publicly criticizing other students about their behavior at sporting events (or, “sports games”). As they say, there is a first time for everything, as the editorial staff at The Daily Campus, an independent student paper for Connecticut, published an editorial today criticizing students for “displaying poor sportsmanship and little respect” toward opposing teams and specifically cites fans at the men’s basketball games. Essentially the editors are asking the student section to display the same respect and courtesy afforded to Jim Calhoun and Kemba Walker to the other team no matter what the letters on the front of that uniform say. Judging from the reader comments at the bottom of the article, I don’t think this will go over too well in Storrs.

A New Sign for Gampel?

While I agree that fans occasionally go over the line (and I had multiple discussions with a certain friend in college about this — I will spare you the rather interesting details that he would divulge to the opposing team and crowd), I am having a hard time figuring out what the UConn fans did to deserve a reprimand from their fellow students. I have been to several UConn games over the past few years (both at Storrs and Hartford) and have found the fans to be pretty reasonable. Sure, there may be a choice comment or two from the fans that might offend the opera crowd, but I don’t think anybody can reasonably expect a PBS conversation at a sporting event of this caliber. Now if I hear that sort of stuff at a Little League baseball game, I might be a little more concerned. Quite simply, Gampel and the XL Center have been two of the more pleasant places I have been to watch a game at recently, and no, I am not going to list the places that might be less friendly to a child’s ears. We doubt that this article will generate any real change except to flood the paper’s e-mail inbox, but it is worth a read if only for its naivete.

Share this story

Kansas Fans Rally Around Thomas Robinson

Posted by jstevrtc on January 26th, 2011

A Facebook page has been created in support of Kansas sophomore forward Thomas Robinson. The page calls upon “all Kansas fans to support T-Rob during this horrible time in his life, and not only Kansas fans, but fans of any other school who find it in their hearts” to support Robinson.

Robinson, and Friends

By now, you’ve heard about the unbelievable trial that fate is putting him through right now. The only two grandparents he’s ever known died within a few weeks of each other. His mother Lisa died on Friday of a heart attack. She was 38 years old. The Robinson family now consists of Thomas, 19, and his 9-year old sister, Jayla. So, in addition to keeping up with his studies and everything else that comes with playing for an elite college basketball program with as rabid and dedicated a fan base as any out there in any sport, Thomas is, for now, the official caretaker for his 9-year old sister — the very person who called him to tell him that their mother was gone.

[Time out, here…imagine that scenario for a moment. The 9-year old second grader has this news. She has to alert her brother, over a thousand miles away. There were presumably adults around at the time her mother died, at the hospital or wherever. They probably felt like they should make the call to Thomas, because that’s not news that you tell a 9-year old to break. Whether she volunteered for that task or not, Jayla is the one who left that voicemail. 29-year olds shouldn’t have to do that, let alone 9-year olds. That’s courage.]

On one hand, we’re sure Thomas is honored to take that responsibility of caring for his sister, and will dedicate his life to it. On the other…he shouldn’t have to. The situation is beyond comprehension, even to people as detached from it as us. The universe, though, has forced Thomas and his sister to comprehend it, and live it.

There have been some good — actually, let’s not say “good” — let’s say that some positive things have happened in the wake of this, things that speak well of Kansas fans, the school itself, and the NCAA. A scholarship fund that bears her mother’s name has been set up for Jayla Robsinson, and people are even inquiring about adopting the girl, or at least becoming her legal guardian. Kansas Athletics, Inc. will pay for the cost to fly the team to Washington, DC for the funeral tomorrow and the funeral itself. This has been approved by the NCAA, an organization that takes a lot of guff and endures a lot of second-guessing as far as the decisions they make that greatly impact kids’ lives. You can find some of that venom on this very site. But you’ve got to give credit where it’s due, even when there’s no other decision that could conceivably have been made.

So let’s all enjoy tonight’s games, and the big San Diego State vs BYU matchup that most of us have been looking forward to for so long. We all need to enjoy these little pleasures and be grateful for the chance. You don’t need us to tell you that. But before you settle in for the game, perhaps you could take 60 seconds, check out the Facebook page that’s been set up to support Thomas Robinson, and join the group set up by Kansas fans. Chances are, if you have a Facebook account, you’ve offered or accepted friend requests from more tenuous “friends” in the past. We’re pretty sure Thomas will look in on it at some point, and it would be good if the member count was well into the thousands, as we expect it will be eventually. We’re talking about the Kansas basketball family, after all.

Share this story

The Texas/ESPN Television Deal: What It Means

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2011

Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent.

When it was announced on Wednesday that the University of Texas and ESPN had come to terms on a 20-year, $300 million agreement to create a 24-hour television network largely dedicated to broadcasting Longhorn sports, we entered a new era of college sports on a variety of different levels. What exactly this new era will look like remains to be seen, but the Texas move, which they have been angling in on for years, but most intensively since they turned down the Pac-10’s offer this summer, will reverberate around the world of college athletics.

Texas Keeps Expanding Its Reach and Redefining College Sports Media

First let’s look at some of the details of the deal. The network, launching in September, will be developed and managed by ESPN. According to the Austin American-Statesman, of the $300 million, 82.5% or $247.5 million is guaranteed to Texas, with the other $52.5 million promised to IMG College, which handles marketing and licensing for the university. According to Texas president Bill Powers, the university will receive about $10 million per year during the first five years of the contract, half of which will “be devoted to academic and faculty support” and half of which will head to UT Athletics. This $10 million annually will grow over the course of the contract, and Texas can expect an average of $12.4 million per year above and beyond their share of the Big 12’s television agreements. Currently, Texas receives approximately $14-15 million from those existing agreements (a number which will grow to $20 million next year with the departure of Nebraska and Colorado), and with the additional income from the new deal will earn more than $30 million per year from their television deals. All told, this new network is only guaranteed one football game and eight men’s basketball games, although it may get a few more in the early years of the contract and perhaps even more down the road. But, the crux of these numbers bears repeating: ESPN essentially gave Texas $247.5 million to air one football game and eight basketball games a year over the next 20 years.

This is by no means the first example of an individual school striking out on its own to pursue its own television contracts. Notre Dame’s football deal with NBC in 1991 was the first such example, and it was indeed a blockbuster, but given their lack of ties to a conference there were few immediate ripples. Gonzaga basketball has its own television deal with Spokane’s KHQ-TV and FSN Northwest, independent of the West Coast Conference’s television deals. And BYU, just this past summer, decided to break away from the MWC and move ahead as an independent in football, with a brand new contract with ESPN and with plans to air additional sports content on its own network, BYUtv. But given the size and stature of the Texas athletic department, this development is a whole different animal, and its repercussions are numerous and considerable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story