Although NASCAR has seen a dip in popularity in recent years, it still remains as one of the top spectator sports in the country. Last night, one of NASCAR's great races, the Southern 500, took place in Darlington. Darlington Raceway is known for a particularly physical style of racing seen usually on short tracks. So, naturally, two of the sport's most notorious hot heads - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, would go head to head and play the feud in Darlington at the end of the race.
In a video that has been everywhere around the internet in the last 14 hours, Harvick gets out of his car on pit road to confront Busch in his car behind him. Once Harvick got out of the car, Busch, who later said he lost reverse, took it upon himself to plow into Harvick's car parked in front of him and send it into the pit road wall. As Busch drove away, Harvick got a punch in at Busch. In the words of Fox announcer Darrell Waltrip, "HOLY SMOLY!" The action really gets started at the 1:20 mark...
I have to say, that's the first time I've ever heard an announcer say the words "holy smoly" during a telecast. This video does lead to a point on announcing and NASCAR (and outside the stupidity and recklessness of the drivers involved). I appreciate Waltrip and NASCAR announcers who don't pretend to be something they aren't. Yes, saying "holy smoly" and "dad gum" sound hokey to a large portion of the country, but I'd rather hear a NASCAR announcer be authentic and say that than try to be someone else for a coveted demographic. Sports like NASCAR and soccer are much better, especially on television, when they are presented for what they are and not dumbed down or sold to an audience that wouldn't care in the first place. Oh, and have a holy and smoly Mother's Day!
... AAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNDDDDDDD GOOD AFTERNOON EVERYBODY!! HOW ARE YOU TO...
Oh yea, that's right, Mike and the Mad Dog split up. Darn. I have to admit, I was disappointed when Mike Francesa and Chris Russo parted ways in August 2008. Thanks to the YES Network, I was able to enjoy Mike and the Mad Dog quite a bit throughout the last decade. I always found the pair knowledgeable and entertaining. I can't say I've seen much of Francesa or Russo's solo acts since, but I can't imagine they would be anywhere close to as good apart as what they were able to produce together.
The following clip that I found on Traina's Twitter though, is a classic Francesa rant and shows the best and worst of the radio host. Whereas Russo's rants are usually filled with the insane ravings of a lunatic... Francesa's rants are much more arrogantly low-key. He can destroy somebody with painstaking ease and knows it. His target today was Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. Ryan's never-ending book tour skipped Francesa, likely because the radio host and the team have been at odds for many months now. Ryan, who is fresh off his latest lap of the sports media sucking on his ample teet, wrote a book. Ryan was also given the Horrigan Award by the Pro Football Writers of America for helping the media do its job. (Shouldn't the media be critical and report stories instead of handing out awards?) Moreover, I questioned Ryan's credentials for writing a book and the media love affair with the coach here at AA last week.
With that background, normally I wouldn't be so supportive of such an arrogant montage of clips (Francesa repeatedly dismisses callers, humbly touts his humble upbringing in the second person, and repeatedly mentions his own success), but when it's done so cooly and aimed at the likes of Rex Ryan and Phil Mushnick, it's worth sharing with AA...
This isn't quite the breaking news story that the Gus Johnson saga has become, but it is a hilarious video that we must share nonetheless. According to The Big Lead, it comes from just prior to Game 3 between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators. It involves a cameraman doing his heroic duty of filming the dramatic entrance of the Preds through some sort of sabertoothed, smoke spewing like creature. My favorite part of the video is the player knocking down the cameraman and then running (or skating) in a panic away from the scene of the crime. Thankfully, at least two Good Samaritan Predators were willing to help the poor guy up. Happy Friday!
Ready for another twist in the Gus Johnson story? The New York Daily News is reporting that Gus Johnson has not officially parted ways with CBS just yet. SI.com's Richard Deitsch first reported this afternoon that Gus and CBS were finished and the announcer would be looking for a new network to call home. In Lee Corso fashion, Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News says NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Here's the important part of their brief report...
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.
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
funkyhonkeys NOOOOOOO!!!! 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.
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.
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.
Back in January, ESPN announced that they were joining forces with the University of Texas to form the Longhorn Network. The deal was groundbreaking in the sense that no sports entity had gotten behind a singular university with the size of investment that ESPN was making with Texas. The deal also raises some major questions. Can viewers of ESPN take their analysis and coverage of Texas seriously knowing that the Bristol machine is pumping 300 million dollars over a 20 year period into Texas and the Longhorn Network??? This isn't some flea sized endorsement deal by some sideline reporter creating a supposed conflict of interest. These are major league dollars we're talking about here that ESPN isn't investing into Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, or any other university... except Texas. (There's the whole special branding of the SEC on ESPN, but that's another story for another day.)
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??