Ian Eagle Feb 17, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Broadcaster Ian Eagle before the game between the Houston Cougars and the Texas Longhorns at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Eagle is one of the industry’s most beloved and renowned commentators today. Thursday’s NCAA Tournament tip-off signaled a new era at CBS Sports for Eagle. The longtime play-by-play man will call the Final Four and the National Championship Game for the first time as a member of the CBS team.

Eagle isn’t new to this game, of course. He’s worked the NCAA Tournament for several decades. Only until rather recently did he hold the line during the first and second rounds before moving to Westwood One, where he’d call the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight on the radio. Within the last ten years, Eagle got the bump to a regional TV crew, crushed it unsurprisingly with his former broadcast partner Jim Spanarkel (and a spirited group of reporters including but not limited to David Aldridge, Lewis Johnson, Allie LaForce, and Jamie Erdahl), and now finds himself in rarified air.

Despite his lengthy experience, the feelings all remain the same, according to The Bird. Eagle stopped by 670 The Score in Chicago ahead of the NCAA Tournament on The Bernstein & Holmes Show this week. Eagle discussed his preparation for this year’s tournament and whether there’s been a difference in approach. His answer? Not so much.

“Oh, I don’t know if I’ve gone there mentally. I’m treating it like I would treat every tournament in terms of preparation,” Eagle admitted. Eagle thinks that it’ll eventually hit him more that he’s calling the Final Four when he arrives in Phoenix. “Probably the week of the Final Four itself. The flight to Phoenix, walking into the arena that night, it’s probably going to hit me more. For now, in order to get through the four games on Friday, the two games on Sunday, the two games the following week, the one game that leads to the Final Four, you gotta keep your eye on the ball.

“I’ve tried to just maintain the same approach that I’ve had the last 26 years doing the NCAA Tournament,” Eagle said.

Eagle described the preparation and the turnaround as “an information avalanche in many ways.”

“The fact that I’ve done it for so long would make you think, ‘Oh, you got it down! You’ve got the system! You’ve got the secret sauce!’ No. It’s the same way every year,” Eagle revealed through some laughter. He talked about his juggling of local and national broadcasts, which for Eagle is pressing sometimes. He calls Brooklyn Nets games for YES Network and also calls the NFL every Sunday on CBS.

The feverish preparation for the NCAA Tournament is a grind for everybody. “A lot of it is managing your stress levels,” Eagle said. “The two or three days leading up to it, I must admit, are probably the most angst-riddled of the year because it’s a little bit out of your control.”

[Barrett Sports Media; 670 The Score]

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022