Given that the internet love for the man who quickly became my favorite play-by-play presence on college basketball broadcasts (Bill Raftery occupies the color spot) is spreading so much that it’s begun infiltrating L.A. Daily News columns, I should articulate why every game Gus Johnson calls for CBS this March is always a must-watch game for me, personally.
- I like someone who gives a shit about the game on the floor, honestly. You want someone to be impartial, but also enjoying the game — and he loves it when he sees awesome plays no matter which team’s making them.
- He’s Gary Thorne with a dimmer dial rather than an on-off switch. I’ve loved Thorne in certain arenas, but others seem inappropriate. Gus always knows when to dial down and when to ramp it up.
- He makes the most dull of color guys look good. This may throw a bit of a hole in my “pair him with Raf” theory, because both might need the space — but Clark Kellogg and Len Elmore are not exactly exciting folks.
Johnson’s calling the Pac-10 Tournament final on Saturday, and I’ll be watching, of course — and it’s nice to read that his bosses at CBS are encouraging him to do what he does.
One time, Johnson tried to artificially rein it in was when calling a San Diego Chargers game on CBS a few years ago. LaDainian Tomlinson broke off a long touchdown run, and “instead of being myself, I was like Chris Schenkel,” Johnson said, referring to the late ABC broadcaster who had a far more subdued personality on the air.
“I hear a voice in my ear right away, ‘What was that?’ ” Johnson said. “My boss had called the production truck (and said) ‘Tell Gus to stop messing around. Be himself.’ ”
That boss was executive producer Tony Petitti.
For more evidence, I’ll link to a CBS-compiled YouTube clip of calls from 2007’s tourney (and fuck you right in the ear, Eye, for disabling embedding.)
Embrace the “Gus Factor” [LA Daily News]