Is there anything sacred left in the world? You think you know a network until they let their greatest announcer walk right out of the door. Gus Johnson, also known as the voice of March Madness, has reportedly cut ties with CBS leaving a gaping hole in the network’s sports coverage and appeal.
SI.com has learned that CBS Sports recently parted ways with Gus Johnson, a play-by-play mainstay on its college basketball coverage for 16 years, after the two sides could not agree on a new deal. Johnson has also worked as a play-by-play voice for the network’s NFL coverage since 1998.
Johnson’s animated style and signature calls at the conclusion of tournament games earned him cult status among younger college basketball fans. During his decade and a half with CBS, Johnson also called college football, track and field, boxing and the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Johnson’s marketing agent, Christian Gesue, declined to comment.
Johnson is scheduled to work Showtime’s pay-per-view coverage of Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight. He has called college basketball for the Big Ten Network for the past two years. [SI.com]
Before addressing that last paragraph, let me first say Gus Johnson will have no problem finding work. He’s made teams like Northern Iowa and Xavier feel like they were the ’96 Bulls or ’80’s Lakers, so imagine what ol’ Gus could do if placed in front of a NBA playoff Game 7. Not only does that have sports euphoria written all over it, but consider the play-by-play combos we could potentially be afforded. Imagine a one-two punch of Mike Breen/Jeff Van Gundy/Mark Jackson and Gus Johnson/Hubie Brown as the commentators on ABC. That’s beautiful when taken into consideration TNT has Marv Albert/Steve Kerr and Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller (shut up) to counteract. That’s some high quality basketball being called. ESPN may as well hand a blank check over, his starting date and keep that gravy train moving. Hell, he can call a handful of Sunday Night Football and college football games as well. There’s nothing like a diverse portfolio.
Anywho, moving right along. Feel free slap me stupid, did that last paragraph say he would be calling the Pacquiao/Mosely fight this weekend? “Working pay-per-view coverage” is an open ended statement, so I’ll attempt to refrain from jumping to conclusions. But seriously, we’ve see Gus call game winning shots and touchdowns. Lord only knows how animated he’d get for a heavyweight knockout. It’d probably go something like this:
Johnson: Pacquiao returns with a flurry of jabs! Pacquiao connecting! Here we go partner! This is the guy we paid to see! Pacquiao! Pacquiao! Pacman lands a vicious right hand! Mosley’s stumbling!
**Mosley gets knocked out**
Johnson: PACQUIAO!!!! PACQUIAO!!!! WHAT A RIGHT HAND!!! MOSELY WENT DOWN QUICKER THAN A NEW ORLEANS PROSTITUTE ON FAT TUESDAY!!
Ok, that last sentence was an exaggeration, but it would not surprise me if Gus let that fly on PPV.
Nothing is for certain about the famed announcer’s future as of yet, although he has allegedly spoken with FOX Sports about their role in college football coverage (which would not be a bad look either). With all the news and rumors circulating around what his next move will be, however, a serious and understated question remains. Who the hell is going to call March Madness next year if Gus really is handing in his two week notice?