AA Roundtable: NCAA Tournament Coverage

AA is launching a roundtable discussion each week on one of the most significant topics we've covered throughout the previous seven days.  Our collection of sports media gurus will take part in a free flowing, often times snarky, often times sardonic e-mail thread and we'll publish the results for you.  Read the entire roundtable after the jump.  This week's topic: What realistic change would you make to NCAA Tournament coverage?

Matt Yoder: This week CBS released their list of announcers for March Madness.  Jim Nantz is calling the Final Four for something like the 657th consecutive time and the rest of the Turner-CBS stable is largely in tact from last year.  After a couple years, I'd argue this new Turner-CBS arrangement is way better than the olden days when CBS told us what to watch and when.  But things could always be better.  If you were running the March Madness TV coverage, what's one realistic change you would make?  (Note: You can't call Fox and rent Gus Johnson for March, he's busy touring Europe with Robin Van Persie.)  Would you leave the NBA guys at home?  Would you switch an announcing assignment?  Create a Red Zone type channel?  What would you do?

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Ken Fang: I like the CBS/Turner partnership. All games are national and being able to watch on my TV, computer, iPad and iPhone simultaneously for the 2nd and 3rd rounds is a plus (ok, that's sick, I know). I'd like to see Ian Eagle bumped up to be with his old New Jersey Nets TV partner Bill Raftery for the regional finals. Nothing against Uncle Verne Lundquist, but it's time for Ian to get more plum assignments. And I would love CBS Sports Network or truTV be converted into the NCAA Tournament "Red Zone" in future years. Fans have become accustomed to whiparound coverage. It's time we see some real whiparounds for the tournament.

Joe Lucia: Realistically, what would I do? I’d wipe every mention of truTV from the broadcast schedule. The only thing I know they broadcast is Hardcore Pawn, and that’s because of Charles Barkley’s hilarious line about the show last year. I think it’s just a little silly to shoehorn the first four games of the tournament onto a channel that no one is familiar with, let alone watches regularly.

Andrew Bucholtz: The NCAA broadcast setup's largely done well, so it's more about tweaking than drastic changes. A RedZoneish setup would help, as would getting games off truTV and switching to an announcer who did basketball all year, but the current product isn't horrible. It just could be better.

Yoder: Yea, the truTV thing has always been weird. I don't know how a single network goes from televising "World's Dumbest Brawlers 2" (seriously, that was on last night) to the NCAA Tournament.  Doesn't CBS Sports Network make more sense since it's starving for content?  One realistic change could be giving CBSSN that type of "Red Zone" coverage, which would be pretty awesome that first weekend.

Fang: I understand why Turner is using truTV, but to be honest, it's not in the sports vernacular. Only in March does it matter and that's for what? 13 games? The First Four, 8 2nd Round games and 5 3rd Round contests? C'mon, man! It's too bad that CBS could not put them on CBS Sports Network to make cable operators carry the channel.

Yoder: What about the announcers?  Jim Nantz has called the Final Four since I was 5 years old and strangely infatuated with Jerry Tarkanian trying to eat a towel.  Isn't it time someone else got a chance?

Bucholtz: Nantz's continued run is more because of his name, less because of what he brings to the table as an announcer right now. I don't hate his basketball work, but I don't think he'd be there in a sheer meritocracy. Network executives still seem to operate on the name basis with announcers, but I think more and more fans are getting to the point where they'd prefer a well-called game, regardless of if they know the name of the guy who's doing it.

Lucia: There's a lot of young talent at ESPN that could theoretically make a jump if they were given a chance at a more national level. The guy I would love to see get a shot who's way under the radar is Jon Sciambi, but I highly doubt he'd leave ESPN for CBS due to their lack of baseball.

Fang: When the Final Four goes to Turner either next year or in 2016, expect Marv Albert to call it. And then Kevin Harlan. But how does Nantz get the Final Four when he only calls one regular season game a year? What's up with that?

Yoder: It's like Joe Buck just dropping in for a game or two in late September and then calling the World Series or Mike Breen showing up in April just before the NBA Playoffs.  Jim Nantz isn't someone you associate with college basketball… until the Final Four when he says "Hello, Friends" and then "Goodbye, Friends" just as quickly.  Jim Nantz isn't bad at all, in fact I think he's stepped up his game a bit the last couple years, but does he need to announce every single major sporting event CBS televises till the end of time?  Marv, Ian Eagle, and Kevin Harlan are all more than deserving of calling the Final Four.  Honestly, I think that's the main reason Gus Johnson left CBS.  With Nantz around, he could never be the top guy, not even for a second.

Bucholtz: Nantz dropping in is a good point. So much of what makes NCAA basketball interesting is the story of how teams get to the Final Four, not just what happens there. Having an announcer who'd been there at more crucial points along the way would seem like an advantage.

Yoder: Maybe CBS needs to name a lead college basketball announcer and stick with it.  The guy I saw call the most college basketball games on CBS this season was Tim Brando of all people.  (Who knew?)  I like Ken's idea – make Ian Eagle and Bill Raftery your top college basketball broadcast team and stick with it through the regular season and the Final Four.

A little bit more about our staff…

Andrew Bucholtz runs Yahoo Canada's CFL blog, 55 Yard Line

Ken Fang writes about the sports media at the revered Fang's Bites

Joe Lucia is the Managing Editor of The Outside Corner and a contributor across Bloguin

Matt Yoder

About Matt Yoder

Managing Editor of Awful Announcing and award winning sportswriter. Bloguin consigliere. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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