While the joint CBS-Turner NCAA Tournament Selection Show on TBS Sunday took a lot of criticism, co-host Ernie Johnson said Monday he thought it went pretty well from his perspective. Johnson called into ESPN’s Golic and Wingo (with guest hosts Chris Canty and Dan Dakich), and said the criticism was to be expected given the changes (which were made above his level), but he thought the show worked out:
“I think TV is always changing, and I think with TBS getting the Selection Show for the first time, we just wanted to kind of put our stamp on that. Obviously, the decisions are made well above my level, I’m more of a, they say ‘Here’s how we’re going to do the show now, you and Greg Gumbel and Seth (Davis) and Kenny (Smith) and Charles (Barkley), do this.’
“So I think there’s decisions to have a studio audience, to have a bigger studio, to announce all the teams early on and get all the information out and frontload it so we can get everyone in the know, because a couple of years ago, we did a two-hour show and it took well over an hour to get all the field out. So the decision was to frontload it and get all the information out, and we did that in under 40 minutes last night.
“Look, I know that if you tinker with something like the Selection Show, there are going to be folks that say ‘Hey, don’t touch it, don’t change it’ and that kind of thing. That’s certainly expected. But I thought we had a great time. We got all the information out, we had great interviews with coaches in there, and then you had all the brackets being broken down. So that was the Selection Show from my viewpoint, I’m in the middle of kind of a million things happening at once, but there you go.”
Johnson is then asked why the decision was made to change the show from the standard bracket reveal to the alphabetical reveal of teams, and he said it was a decision made above him and made perhaps to make the show stand out in its first time on TBS.
“I don’t know, I sort of touched on it right there, any time you get the chance to do the show in your place, you kind of want to put your stamp on it. And again, I think a lot of this, it’s in response, because a couple of years ago it was ‘Hey, CBS took so long to get there,’ so it’s ‘Let’s get all the information out there earlier this time, earlier in the show.’ I think that’s basically where that comes from.”
They then go on to discuss the difficulties Johnson faced preparing for this show while Tiger Woods was making an impressive run at the Valspar Championship (which many, many more people watched), and the challenges of preparing for NCAA Tournament work while being immersed in the NBA. That’s all worth a listen too.
But it’s Johnson’s comments on the Selection Show that really stand out, indicating both why they went the way they did and how it was perceived internally. And that’s interesting context to consider, especially for when it comes to where the Selection Show may go from here. Despite all the external criticism, this year’s entry wasn’t seen as a problem on the inside, and that may mean there won’t be as many changes (or a full reversion to the original bracket-reveal format) as some would like.