The NCAA Tournament has (sort of) kicked off with the first pair of First Four games being played last night, and two more set for this evening.
But the real feast of basketball doesn’t begin until Thursday, when the actual First Round gets underway and we have nothing but basketball for four straight days.
And while it’s officially been six years since his CBS Sports contract ended, it just feels weird not having Gus Johnson calling some of the games.
Gus Johnson rose to prominence like Twitter and the internet, hitting his peak with college basketball and March Madness with his wild enthusiasm, terrific catchphrases, and the ability to somehow make a crazy game, seem every crazier when he was at the mic.
For a while, someone even had a soundboard (long ago removed by CBS) that had all of his catchphrases so you could make your own Gus-gasms at home when a game wasn’t on.
The games have always been about upset, crazy plays, and just the weirdness that comes from playing 67 basketball games in less than a month, and Gus always seemed to capture that, especially during the opening few rounds when upsets were happening.
For those who don’t know, since leaving CBS Gus has been at Fox Sports where he tried his hand at soccer (it didn’t go well), and has been their main guy for NCAA Basketball coverage, as well as some NFL and college football work.
I had totally forgotten about him until I turned on the Big East Tournament last week and heard his voice as Seton Hall tried to upset Villanova. All I thought during that game was, “Damn, it stinks Gus Johnson is relegated to calling Big East Games during the biggest time of the year for college hoops and not the big tournament.”
Now, to be clear I don’t think Gus should be calling Final Four games, because for as good as he was at getting caught up in the moment, he was very average at selling a decent game that wasn’t bonkers crazy at the end. And really, aside from when he’s sniffing his own farts at The Masters, Jim Nantz isn’t that bad.
But again, with the biggest and craziest four days of basketball set to tip, it feels wrong that the guy who was the voice behind the madness isn’t there to call anymore madness.
I miss Gus Johnson, especially in March.