According to an industry source Johnson, whose CBS contract expired after the Final Four, received a written offer from Fox earlier this week. The offer includes both NFL and Pac-12 football play-by-play roles.
However Johnson's reps have not presented the offer to CBS execs. When they do, probably next week, CBS will have one week to match or say adios to Johnson.
This story contradicts Deitsch's original report that Gus and CBS had already parted ways. Gus to Fox to broadcast their new college football and announce NFL is the most logical alternative to working at CBS. At Fox, he would have to be no less than #2 in their middling stable of play by play announcers on the NFL side and likely the top college football personality. Whether that deal is on the table before or after a resolution has occurred with CBS is now much less clear. We are trying to follow this story as closely as we can and any new piece of information that we find, we will bring to AA. Watch this space.
[NY Daily News]
***UPDATE II: Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times has this to add...
Two people familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly said Johnson and CBS have so far been unable to agree on a new contract and that he now is in discussions with Fox. One of the sources said Johnson is discussing "a significant role" in Fox's college football coverage, which has recently been expanded with the Pac-12 and Big 12.
The LA Times report does not mention a possible NFL role for Fox, does not say that Gus is necessarily "finished" at CBS, and leaves the negotiations open-ended and more ambiguous than the other reports we've seen thus far. One thing I think is for sure, we'll find out just how much Gus' popularity with fans will carry over to network executives. With Jim Nantz firmly placed at the top of CBS' football and college basketball coverage, a move to Fox may provide Gus more opportunities at the top of the marquee, but leave him missing during March Madness.
***UPDATE III: We reached out to Fox for a comment, and this is what they had to say...
"Gus is a terrific talent, but we have nothing to announce at this time."
We are all still trying to cope with the news that Gus Johnson is leaving CBS Sports and thus, will not be announcing NCAA Tournament games for the foreseeable future. We sought your reaction on Twitter and here were the responses to the news. From the flood of responses we received, it's clear that most fans are mourning the day that Rise and Fire died. Yes, Gus may go to Fox or somewhere else, but the marriage of Gus Johnson and the NCAA Tournament was announcing perfection. As always, these are Real Tweets from Real People...
Michael_Necci "March Madness died today" --#GusJohnsonReactions
HughGWreckshin Tears are still flowing as friend looks on shouting: WITH THE TISSUUUUUUUE... OOOH!
NoNickname773 Can we hope he doesn't do MMA again?
bisonmessink No Gus Johnson? Who's going to try to convince us now that Chiefs - Bills games are exciting?
DomenicoRe hopefully Gus Johnson and Petros papadakis will be the announcing team for the PAC 12 on fox this coming season
benjaminbordeau gus's intensity and enthusiasm for the game is unbridled and cannot be matched... Noone could excite fans like he could
IfGusHadCalldIt - "Ohhh That offer was low! I'm heading to ESPN. CBS...IS...OUT!"
mhfight it is CBS's loss but it deprives us of a true joy of The madness
Galvinizer24 Very saddened. He was the only great announcer on CBS aside from Kevin Harlan. March Madness just won't be as fun.
Davey_INDY It's extremely sad as a sports fan to hear Gus has left CBS. March Madness won't be the same next year. TNT should hire him
APinKC Andy Pollard there were 2 guarantees at CBS sports...1) Gus would make any game exciting. 2) Jim Nantz will have a stupid pun @ the end
sgsmith_23 I want to know what CBS thinks of the fact that the near-unanimous response to this is that they're making a huge mistake.
filgrinan Gus is the ONLY play by play guy I would tune in for, regardless of the matchup
donaldc4 My reaction to the Gus Johnson news is GOOD RIDDANCE!!! I grew up listening to Red Barber, Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Marty Glickman, Mel Allen. They didn't need to scream like a lunatic for no reason at routine plays. Johnson's a joke
schneidey535 NOOOO! He's the Marv Albert of NCAA basketball.
PappyCather Gus had a feel for the moment. No announcer right now can take the game...elevate it and make you feel for both teams.
androog CBS loses by far their best announcer. I can't even fathom why they would let him get away
gumby61184 March Madness became March Saneness
philiptang77 sad day for those who love march madness hopefully if gus goes to fox he will be their number 1 or 2 on some sports
djstevem CBS blew it not bringing him back now FOX or ESPN can get him; huge loss for the Tiffany Network
svpgh it's not all bad news, GJ is a very hot commodity and there's lots of Gus goodness to come - including BW3 commercials.
And, from our Facebook page...
Rob Caplan worst news of the year announcing-wise. gus always brought the passion and energy to march madness and when he called his selected nfl games. its a shame that a contractual deal couldn't happen for gus and i wish him the best on the big 10 network and even shotime boxing and his next job if he calls college football or any kind of football.
Memo Caldera Gus Johnson leaving March Madness may be the end of college basketball. He was one of about three reasons why I even watched it to begin with. Also, who is Steve Tasker going to be with? Those two were Peanut Butter and Jam!
Chaz Bryant Shocking but I have a feeling he'll show up at Fox. I like how CBS presents sports, but he wasn't going anywhere at CBS with Nantz. I think he can easy be #2 at Fox for the NFL but they'll place him at #3, but when they start their college football coverage IMO I would make him #1 games on big Fox and FX, plus lead on college b-ball on FX.
Gus Johnson may be done at CBS, but he instantly becomes the LeBron James of announcing free agents. Let's only hope he hosts his own Decision program to tell the world where his next move will be.
Our pal Richard Deitsch of SI.com, who broke the news about Gus Johnson not being hired by NFL Network for Thursday Night Football, has relayed even more shocking and stunning news. Gus Johnson is done at CBS Sports. That means come March Madness next year, you won't hear Gus calling any of the action. Here's an excerpt...
SI.com has learned that CBS recently parted ways with Gus Johnson, a play-by-play mainstay on its college basketball coverage for 16 years. Johnson has also worked as a play-by-play voice for the network's NFL coverage since 1998.
The two parties could not agree on a new deal.
Industry sources said Johnson has spoken with Fox Sports about a role in its college football coverage. Fox Sports (which has a 49 percent ownership share in the Big Ten Network) recently upped its inventory of college football as part of the 12-year, $3 billion contract between the Pac-10 (soon to be the Pac-12) and ESPN and Fox.
Wooooooooow. This is perhaps the biggest announcing story of the year so far and we will be all over it at AA in the coming hours and days. It will be very, very interesting to see where Gus lands on his feet, but it's a sad story for fans of Gus and the NCAA Tournament that Johnson and CBS have parted ways. Back in January, Gus told AA that his dream job was announcing the Final Four.
"I dream about calling the Final Four and the National Championship game. As a broadcaster that’s the only thing that I’d like to do that I haven’t done. College basketball is my thing and gives me great joy. If there was one thing I’d like to do one day, and I’m still relatively young, I think one day I’d like to have the chance to do that. One day I hope that will happen."
Unfortunately, that dream seems much further away for Johnson. We'll update the story as more information is released.
Last month, we told you that NFL Network was breaking up the all-time awful analyst duo of Matt Millen and Joe Theismann. Furthermore, NFL Network was considering a change at the play by play position, where Bob Papa had done fairly well, especially considering his broadcast partners. Papa probably deserved a chance with a competent analyst instead of playing traffic cop with Harry and Lloyd, but it was not guaranteed. The initial reports had Papa competing with fan favorite Gus Johnson to do play by play while NBC's Notre Dame analyst Mike Mayock was a lock to become the new analyst. NFL Network has finalized their Thursday Night Football booth for 2011 and in a huge surprise, neither Papa nor Johnson will join Mayock in the booth. Instead, ESPN's Brad Nessler will get the call. Here's an excerpt from Richard Deitsch's report...
SI.com has learned that Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock will call the network's eight-game Thursday Night Football package. SI.com reported last month that Mayock had been tapped to replace analysts Matt Millen and Joe Theismann on the broadcast. Nessler, the longtime ESPN announcer, will be the play-by-play voice of the new two-person team.
Nessler has worked for ESPN since 1992, most notably calling college football and college basketball games for ABC and ESPN. He and partner Todd Blackledge were assigned the ESPN Saturday prime time college football telecast last season and called Ohio State's win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl this January. It is expected Nessler will continue to have a role on ESPN's college football coverage.
As for his NFL experience, Nessler served as the lead announcer on the back end of Monday Night Football doubleheaders in 2006 and 2010. He served as the radio play-by-play man for the Falcons from 1982-88 and called Vikings games on the radio the following season.
That came from out of nowhere. Gus Johnson would have been a much more glamorous choice, but I really, really like the Nessler pick. In fact, he may actually be a better pick than Gus. Nessler isn't a huge star in broadcasting and likely won't send fans to the phones asking for NFL Network, but he is among the top two or three underrated announcers in sports, especially doing football. (His time announcing the NBA Finals in the early 2000s was decent, but he was replaced by Al Michaels quickly.) His work on college football for ESPN the last few years has been very good and his partnership with Todd Blackledge was enjoyable. Nessler's transition from college to the NFL should not be a problem, and it appears he will keep his college broadcasting duties for ESPN. Furthermore, Nessler will allow Mayock the chance to do what he does best and give him ample time to analyze the game. Mayock isn't necessarily the second coming of NFL analysts, but he is still well above average. I can see the Nessler/Mayock team developing some very good chemistry over time and becoming one of the NFL's best announcing teams. All in all, through disasters like Bryant Gumbel and Theismann & Millen, it looks like NFL Network may have finally gotten their broadcast booth right.
This happened: Derrick Rose received his MVP trophy from David Stern and poor ol' Dick Stockton called Rose, "David".
David Stern to Derrick. David Stern to David... Derp. I can see how you might make that mistake - David to another D name and you're still thinking about David in some small capacity? Or maybe old-timer Dick Stockton had the American songwriter on his mind? Either way, I think it could've been worse - he could've said "touch it, Dave!"
This does raise a very serious discussion question, though. Do you prefer announcers to stop and correct themselves (assuming they even catch it) or do you prefer the ol' theater approach - carry on and hope nobody heard you miss/screw up your line(s)? ... I'd probably say it depends on the announcing situation. With something this big - the presentation of the freaking MVP trophy, which has a chance of being replayed over and over again - an announcer better be pretty darn sure they're calling the MVP by the right name. Or at least conscious enough of what they're saying, so they can stop themselves if need be and say, "oh, pisssss, I meant Derrick ... Derrick Rose with the MVP!"
The LA Angels and Boston Red Sox played 13 innings on Wednesday/Thursday, in a game that lasted nearly eight hours and ended just before my bedtime at 3 a.m. EST, thanks in large part to Sox tradition and a two-plus hour rain delay in the middle of the game.
As you might imagine, everyone who opted to stay for its entirety got a little stir crazy by game's finish, announcers included. I mean, things really started to get weird - fans' eyes were bleeding, heckling was getting audibly meaner as cuss words were getting picked up on both broadcasts, some fans were begging Nomar Garciaparra (who was up in the ESPN booth) to come down and pitch, and a few others of the hundred or so remaining Sox fans were even chanting "Yankees Suck" despite the fact the Sox were playing, you know, the Angels. And Brick killed a guy.
Meanwhile, up in the Angels broadcast booth, announcers Victor Rojas and Mike Gubicza decided to put on wrestling masks for an entire inning to ignite a rally that would end this test of endurance once and for all:
I was getting kind of nervous because I didn't know what was going on, but Bobby Abreu dressed like Gene Simmons from Kiss and knocked in two runs on a two-out single to cheer me up. He's the sweetest person in the world.
As it turns out, the wrestling mask will be a promotional giveaway on May 10. The boys in the booth dipped into their bag of tricks a little early to make sure this game didn't last until May 10. Thankfully, the Angels didn't blow another lead in the bottom half of the inning like they did in the 9th, leaving the somewhat premature exposure of the rally wrestling masks victor-Rojas-ious...
Well, a new report about the Longhorn Network from the Austin-American Statesman is cause for more eyebrow raising. You see, not only is ESPN devoting its resources towards the University of Texas and creating a network, but ESPN is also giving Texas the say over on-air personalities. From the Statesman...
According to the contract, "in the event that UT reasonably determines that any on-air talent does not reflect the quality and reputation desired by UT for the Network based on inappropriate statements made or actions taken by such talent and so notifies ESPN, ESPN will cause such talent to be promptly replaced (and will in any event no longer allow them on air following such notice)."
On Tuesday, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz explained in an email, "This is not common in ESPN agreements because this UT network is so unique/new for us ...The provision does not allow for random replacement of commentators or reaction to critical comments... it's more about potential situations where a commentator makes completely inappropriate comments or gets involved in inappropriate actions."
ESPN, which owns the network, will build a multi-million dollar studio in Austin, and hire network personnel... is handing over to the University of Texas the power to terminate any talent that "does not reflect the quality and reputation desired by UT for the network..." Consider me flabbergasted! ESPN is basically wrapping their integrity in a burnt-orange gift box and burying it in Austin. The response from ESPN is nonsensical. Is ESPN not capable of disciplining its own talent for completely inappropriate comments or actions on their own?? Does Texas justice imply something different? The issue is that what Texas considers inappropriate comments or actions, what ESPN considers, and what fans consider will be markedly different. Will a critical interpretation of a loss be considered inappropriate by the university? ESPN says no, will Texas say yes? How about a report on an arrest or NCAA violations? Why can't a company as massive as ESPN decide for itself what inappropriate comments or actions are fireable offenses for its own employees? Will these reporters and on-air personalities actually be working for ESPN or Texas, or does anybody even know?
Now, let's be real. Is what the Longhorn Network does in the grand scheme of things a big deal to most sports fans outside of Texas? No. It's no mystery that personalities on the Longhorn Network should be pro-Texas. It doesn't take a chemical engineering student to get that. However, the real issue is how deeply ESPN is climbing into bed with the University of Texas (insert that's what she said joke here). This is a new frontier for college sports. If ESPN is giving Texas the power to fire people hired by ESPN, what impact will that have on the company at large and the way it treats the university? I don't care if it's the Longhorn Network or not, that's a disconcerting step into uncharted waters. Let's say Kirk Herbstreit isn't too fond of Mack Brown's coaching - can he be truthful without upsetting Longhorn Network, and thus ESPN brass? Let's say Mark May comes on the LN to cheerlead... does he then go back to giving real analysis on College Football Live? On second thought, maybe we can permanently banish Mark May to the Texas channel. Will any negative criticism on College Gameday towards Texas hurt the brand of the Longhorn Network in the eyes of ESPN? Will the SportsCenter theme be replaced with this??
As many may know, we here at AA not only delight in announcing from here in the good old USA, but also around the world. But, I think it's safe to say today may bring us the first, and last announcing highlight from the world of cricket in Great Britain. Apparently cricket commentator Edward Bevan was announcing your standard, boring cricket match in Wales when a ball was crushed by Somerset's Peter Trego. Listen to the clip below as Bevan announces the flight of the ball heading for the commentary box, realizes it's about to hit him, and then does!
I don't know about you, but I'm not surprised a British cricket commentator was able to hold his poise when facing his own near-death experience at the hands of a wicked cricket shot. Can you imagine a more excitable announcer like Kevin Harlan or Gus Johnson (although he's come close before) reacting to a ball heading right towards them? Although Bevan was shaken up for several minutes after being struck, he was able to continue, after all, he's a cricket commentator! Just tape that baby up and get back to work! Suffice to say this show of poise and grit might even start to change the stereotype surrounding cricket commentators. Although, judging by the clip below, maybe the stereotype of British cricket announcers isn't what it used to be!
As the play by play man for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Dan Shulman relayed one of the most important news stories in a generation to millions watching that Osama bin Laden had been killed by United States military forces. By all accounts, Shulman was masterful in his handling of the situation. In this interview, Dan talks to AA about how the information was relayed throughout the booth, breaking the bin Laden news, and other questions about his broadcasting career including what it's like to work with one Dick Vitale. Make sure to click "Read More" for the entire, amazing story.
Q: Before we get to the big news, the first question we always like to ask announcers is how you got your start in sports broadcasting?
A: I'm Canadian as you may know and I went to the university of Western Ontario. I actually graduated as an actuary. While I was at university just for fun as an extra-curricular kind of thing I worked at the campus radio station broadcasting the university's basketball and football games. When I graduated I worked as an actuary for six months and decided it wasn't for me. I had my mid life crisis early when I was 22 years old and decided to give broadcasting a try.
I got a job at a small radio station 50 miles north of Toronto, eventually got to Toronto and worked at the all sports radio station, and then eventually was hired to be the Blue Jays play by play announcer on TSN. One thing led to another, and some people at ESPN heard some of the work that I did and I got lucky and wound up there. When I got the Blue Jays job, which was 1995, I did the Blue Jays in the Summer and college basketball for ESPN in the Winter. Then, I went full time to ESPN in 2001.
Q: I have to ask, what's it like working with Dick Vitale?
A: It's great. It's a fun ride. It's always exciting and unpredictable, but it's fantastic. He's a ton of fun to work with and we're very close and become great friends. There's never a dull moment when you work with Dick. I enjoy every minute of it and I always look forward to working with him.
Q: You're the new play by play man for Sunday Night Baseball, how has the transition been filling in the Sunday Night booth, which is a big topic amongst a lot of baseball fans?
A: I'm so honored and flattered that my bosses would offer me the position on Sunday Night Baseball. Jon Miller is a Hall of Fame broadcaster and one of the best in any sport. It was definitely on my mind when I accepted the job that I'm following in the footsteps of one of the all-time greats. I try not to dwell on it because I don't want to put more pressure on myself. Every Sunday when the game begins I treat it like every game I've ever done and I hope all the viewers like what they're hearing and see.
ESPN puts so many resources into the Sunday Night show providing research and stats and we have so many bells and whistles that enhance the telecast, it's really fun. Anything a broadcaster could ever think of asking for is at our disposal. It's great to be a part of such a talented team.
Q: Tell us about how the Sunday Night booth is coming together and your chemistry with Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine.
A: I guess we've done about five or six games, we're very comfortable with each other, but the chemistry develops over time just like anything. This past week obviously was a much different situation because of the news that broke when we were on the air. Both Bobby and Orel see the game so well and so intelligently, I can throw anything at them and they've got an answer for it. They're such smart baseball guys. What's really nice and what's really important that your readers may or may not realize is the chemistry you have on the air develops from the chemistry you have off the air and all three of us get along great.
Q: Of course, all eyes were on Sunday Night this week. Your phone has probably been ringing off the hook with interview requests since then I can imagine.
A: Yea, it's been a crazy couple of days. It's certainly a moment that I'll never forget. It's not something you can prepare for in any way, shape, or form. It's one thing if it happens at 3 in the afternoon and you've got a few hours to think about how you want to handle it during the telecast that night. We weren't even in a commercial break, we were on the air when I found out. Bobby sits beside me and he nudged me with his elbow and I look towards him and he held up his cell phone...