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

Everyone expected Ian Eagle to do a fine job in his first stint as play-by-play announcer for the Final Four.

By all accounts, the veteran broadcaster lived up to those expectations as he took the CBS Sports’ Final Four reins from longtime play-by-play man Jim Nantz. He showed great chemistry with partners Bill Raftery and Grant Hill and had many memorable calls, including this block by Purdue star Zach Edey.


So while everyone expected the veteran would slide right into his new role without a hitch, he admits he thought about the challenge he faced. Eagle told Barrett Sports Media that he wanted to do things the way he’d done them his entire career, even if the Final Four provided a bigger spotlight.

“I recognized that I didn’t want to make sweeping changes to my approach because it was a bigger stage,” Eagle told Barrett. “I wanted to be myself and do the games the way that I’ve done them for a number of years now and I think that comes with experience and maturity and muscle memory. I do think that having done so many NCAA Tournaments put me in a very advantageous position of knowing what I was walking into.”

Eagle said he also felt more comfortable in the role given he and everyone else had plenty of time to anticipate the transition from Nantz. CBS and Turner announced in 2022 that Nantz would call his 32nd and last Final Four in 2023 and give way to Eagle this year.

If Eagle had any butterflies, he had already gotten them out of the way long ago. Last year, he told the One Shining Podcast with Tate Frazier that, “Jim has done it for 30-plus years. That is unprecedented, it will be unmatched, it is unparalleled.”

“I think because it was being discussed over the course of a few years, I never felt that level of enormity,” Eagle told Barrett. “For me, it was recognizing that Jim was synonymous with this event and respecting the run that he was on. It was incredible. No one is ever going to match it so why think of it in those terms? Just go do your job and be you.”

That’s why Eagle could step into the role so seamlessly this year. He was prepared. He didn’t want to change his strategy. Most of all, he wanted to have fun in the new role.

“We had a blast,” Eagle told Barrett. “I made a conscious effort to remind myself to enjoy it. Sometimes in life, we forget that it’s supposed to be fun, and it’s supposed to be joyous.

“I had this sense of calm just before going on air for the Final Four. I didn’t feel nerves. I didn’t feel stressed. I felt in the moment and comfortable and excited.”

[Barrett Sports Media]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.