Brady wrote yesterday that Steve Kerr was mentioned as being added to the Final Four broadcast team before the news mysteriously disappeared. Well, it took about a day and a half for the news to be officially announced through SI's media writer Richard Deitsch. Remember this is the first year of the 68 team tournament and all games will be nationally televised on CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV. The full article is here, but these are the main details with some commentary:
*Steve Kerr will in fact be a part of the Final Four broadcast team on CBS. Personally, I like this move as Kerr is very enjoyable as a broadcaster. He's self-deprecating and funny at times while providing excellent overall analysis. A bonus is that he has worked some Pac 10 games, so he won't be a complete neophyte with college basketball. The only question will be the chemistry between Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Kerr. Overall, it adds a bump to a Nantz/Kellogg team that underwhelmed at times last year.
*Here's the full list of NCAA Tournament broadcast teams and my guess as to who will stick around for Regional games and cover two weekends of tournament games and who will be there for just the first weekend. Changes from last year's announcing teams are noted in italics:
First Weekend Only -
Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel
Tim Brando and Mike Gminski
Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, and Dan Bonner
Regional Teams -
Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery
Gus Johnson and Len Elmore
Marv Albert and Steve Kerr
Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg
Final Four Team -
Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr
The only changes along with Kerr's addition to the F4 are the insertion of Reggie Miller alongside Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner and the Albert/Kerr team replacing Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas. The NCAA Tournament will miss Bilas as he is the best game analyst in college basketball... Enberg not so much. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise to see the heavy NBA influence with Turner Sports playing a huge role in broadcasting games. I'm no fan of Reggie Miller as an announcer, but at least he's worked with Kevin Harlan before on NBA games. The odds are though that Dan Bonner will want to punch him by the midway point of their second game. I like the move of adding Marv and Kerr as they are a top level announcing team. Those two are so good they could announce a billiards tournament and make it entertaining, let alone the big dance.
*Gus Johnson has been given somewhat of a spotlight as he'll do one half of the opening round games alongside Len Elmore on the second night of the tourney. Nantz, Kellogg, and Kerr will do the first night of this absurd opening round, on truTV of all places, when they play from 68 to 64. At least this move tells viewers that they're listening to the calls for more Gus Johnson and he'll get two extra NCAA games.
*Studio coverage will have a decisive NBA influence with the Inside the NBA crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith playing a big role in NCAA Tournament coverage. Matt Winer, Reggie Miller, and Steve Smith are also going to get airtime in Atlanta. Of course, CBS regulars Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, and Seth Davis will also be involved. My prediction is that for most nights Winer and co. will handle the studio for TNT/TBS games and Gumbel, etc. will handle duties for CBS/truTV.
It appears that the main studio coverage will come from the Johnson/Barkley/Jet trio along with Gumbel and Anthony. From reading Deitsch's article, it seems like Gumbel and Johnson may both be in the studio with Barkley, Anthony, and Kenny Smith for the opening round. As Football Night in America showed, sometimes more bodies in the studio isn't a good thing. One has to wonder whether Barkley's personality will overwhelm the rest of the studio coverage and dominate the NCAA regulars. As long as they stay away from the NCAA vs NBA schtick and Barkley wanting to pay players, this should be a good move. Inside the NBA is the best studio show in America, but having them transplanted to New York and mixed in to the CBS team is a variable.
The bottom line is the addition of so much NBA talent is a calculated gamble by CBS and Turner. Just like over-expanding the field, sometimes too much of a good thing can turn bad. March Madness has always been so well done by the network and adding big NBA personalities like Barkley could take away from what CBS has built over the years. Will the focus be the games, or will it be Barkley working the NCAA tourney? CBS has such a good track record with March Madness, so I have a feeling that the NBA guys will rise to the occasion and do a good job with the college game. Turner has given the best of their NBA coverage to the NCAA tourney, but the jury will be out whether it will be a slam dunk or an air ball for March Madness.