Much has been written in this space about the hopes and dreams, the crashing back to reality, and finally the eventual demise of what is simply known as The Gus Johnson Experiment. Fox Sports attempted to transform beloved cult favorite college football and basketball announcer Gus Johnson into America’s soccer announcer even though Johnson’s experience in the sport was almost nil. Even though Johnson was proclaimed to be Fox’s lead voice for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, here we are still two and a half years before the tournament and Johnson’s soccer career is already a distant memory.
Johnson hasn’t said too much about his odyssey into the beautiful game, but at least he’s apparently able to joke about it now. At halftime of last night’s TCU-West Virginia broadcast, Johnson brought up tactics and mentioned his past soccer career, saying, “that turned out to be a disaster.”
Is disaster too strong? Yes? Maybe?
Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, maybe Gus Johnson: Soccer Announcer goes down in history with the glow puck and other crazy Fox Sports experiments gone wrong. But I still believe that if Fox had allowed Johnson to slowly work his way up the ladder by calling MLS or CONCACAF games instead of throwing him in to the Champions League deep end, it could have worked. Instead, Johnson was gobbled up by the more Euro-centric soccer fans and exposed on one of the sport’s biggest stages like asking a D-3 left back to mark Cristiano Ronaldo.
Alas, we’ll never know if a more conservative strategy would have made the experiment work because Johnson is back in more familiar ground calling college football for the network. But if he wants to let out a massive “GOOOOOOOOLLL” call now and then for a field goal try to relive what could have been, who could blame him?
Video via The Big Lead