In a move that we are certain will generate a ton of praise around the college basketball world (and the blogosphere), CBS has decided to not renew everyone’s least favorite curmudgeon Billy Packer (h/t to The Big Lead for pointing this out). After 27 years at CBS and having called the national championship game every year since 1977, CBS has “decided to move into another direction” (a phrase I’m sure many of our readers have heard before).
Like most college basketball fans, I’m excited to see Packer and his bitterness leave the airwaves (although I’m sure that rtmsf is sad to see a Wake Forest alum lose his job). While Packer has certainly become an institution (of hatred) in college basketball, it seems like in recent years, Packer has been more controversial than normal although that may just be a recency effect.
Among Packer’s “memorable” moments:
-1996: During a Georgetown-Villanova game, he calls Allen Iverson a “tough monkey”. He apologizes and John Thompson (the original, not JT3) says it’s a non-issue because he says Packer is not a racist.
-2000: When two Duke female (yeah, I know an oxymoron) students ask to see his press pass, Packer reportedly responds “Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” Once again Packer apologizes.
-2004: Criticizes the NCAA selection committee for giving 1-loss Saint Joseph’s a #1 seed in the East Regional. This leads to a small disagreement between Packer and the CBS guest–St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli. The Hawks go onto reach the Elite 8 (beating Packer’s alma mater Wake Forest in the Sweet 16) before losing to Oklahoma State in a tight game.
-2006: Packer rips into the selection committee for taking mid-majors over BCSconference schools. The mid-majors responded by having Bradley and Wichita State make it to the Sweet 16 and George Mason make it to the Final 4.
-2008: With 27:30 left in the national semifinal, Packer tells viewers that the game is over. Surprisingly it isn’t. I’m sure the CBS bigwigs weren’t too thrilled that Packer essentially told viewers they could stop watching with 27:30 left in the game.
I’m sure there are others dating back to the beginning of his time on TV, but frankly I’m too young to remember the more distant controversies.
In an attempt to remain “fair & balanced”, we should note that Packer is most likely the 2nd person casual college basketball fans think of when they think of announcers–a distant 2nd to Dick Vitale. We’ll leave you with this YouTube clip from last year with Packer and Jim Nantz discussing his potential legacy (disclosure: I haven’t listened to this because I’m at work and I forgot my headphones–it’s a Monday):