ESPN's final Big Ten men's basketball broadcast (for now). ESPN’s final Big Ten men’s basketball broadcast (for now).

ESPN’s four decades of consecutive Big Ten men’s basketball broadcasts ended “not with a bang but a whimper,” to cite the apt line from T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” The network first broadcast Big Ten men’s basketball in the 1982-83 season, its first foray into what would be a 40-year relationship with the conference across a variety of sports. But that’s all going away following the Big Ten’s new deals with Fox, CBS, and NBC, which kick in this fall.

And while there are still some Big Ten sports broadcasts to come on ESPN before that parting of the ways, their final men’s basketball game from the conference (Ohio State-Michigan State) Saturday ended in inglorious fashion. The Buckeyes-Spartans contest saw the on-site audio from play-by-play voice Mark Neely and analyst Robbie Hummel crash with almost three and a half minutes of game time left, leading to silence and then to the final minutes being called from the studio. Here’s the crash:

And here’s the resumption from studio by that team (Kevin Connors, Dalen Cuff, and Jordan Cornette), with Connors noting “We are experiencing some audio problems right now in East Lansing”:

And the final moments themselves:

The studio team did a cromulent job of filling in here, and those on-site audio crashes certainly do happen. But it’s unfortunate for that to happen during the final Big Ten men’s basketball broadcast on ESPN after 40 years, part of an overall notable end (for now, at least) of the long-running relationship between the network and the conference.

It’s unclear if the on-site announcers had anything in particular planned for that moment. Raycom Sports did for their 2019 farewell to the ACC as an exclusive standalone broadcaster, and NBC did for their 2021 farewell to the NHL. But not every network acknowledges exits from broadcasting a league, and anything in any depth might not have been possible here given the need to quickly get to the next game.

In any case, if there was anything planned for this farewell, we didn’t get to hear it. Instead, Big Ten men’s basketball on ESPN ended with audio issues, a call from the studio, and a quick transition to another already-in-progress game.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.