There’s an interesting read in this morning’s Miami Herald concerning CBS’ apparent decision to cut ties with veteran basketball analyst Billy Packer.
The Herald reports studio analyst Clark Kellogg would take over as the man sitting next to Jim Nantz at the Final Four every year.
Now, most analysts come and go, and some you wish would come and go a lot faster than others. And certainly, Packer has an all-business approach that can come off on television as curmudgeonly or downright grouchy.
He’s also called every title game since 1977 and been a part of every Final Four broadcast since 1975, which is incredible staying power.
That means he had a role on the broadcast of John Wooden’s final game, and called Al McGuire’s final game at Marquette.
It means he’s been at the mike for the theatrics of Lorenzo Charles and Keith Smart, Danny Manning and Glen Rice, Chris Webber’s timeout-that-wasn’t and Memphis’ series of missed free throws and, most recently, Mario Chalmers’ game-tying 3-pointer in April’s national title game.
(It also means there have been plenty of chances to generate headlines for the wrong reasons, which Packer has done as well, in recent years usually in connection with putting down smaller conference schools).
Here’s another historical perspective, thanks to the all-knowing Wikipedia. The following people were still alive when Packer’s streak began: Taiwanese autocrat Chiang Kai-shek, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, baseball hall of famer Casey Stengel and actor and restaurant namesake Arthur Treacher. Not to mention Elvis (who did not die in 1975, unlike the rest of the people listed).
In an understatement, that was a long time ago.
And now, it appears CBS is moving on without the 68-year-old. And if he’s not on the air in some capacity or another at next year’s Final Four in Detroit, it’s going to seem very, very strange.