According to the NY Daily News our long national nightmare might close to being over.
But it’s time to officially start wondering if some CBS execs are turning on Mr. Packer, the man who invented college basketball. How any perceived ill will would affect his CBS broadcasting future remains to be seen.
The smoke has not fully cleared from the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Some Black Rock residents are still ticked over Packer cavalierly declaring Kansas a winner over North Carolina with 7:32 left in the first half (and the Jayhawks ahead 38-12) of their Final Four matchup on April 5.
CBS is paying $6 billion for the right to air the tourney over the life of its contract with the NCAA. From a business perspective, telling viewers to turn off the TV is not a great idea, especially in a soft advertising market.
Naming a “winner” with plenty of time left in a game does not sit well with corporations paying top dollar to advertise their products during the tournament. Some of these same companies will be asked to purchase time on next year’s tourney.
Not only did Packer prematurely turn the lights off – the Tar Heels eventually cut the gap to four points before losing 84-66 – but a few days later in USA Today, he poured salt on the wound.
Packer portrayed himself as an ethical realist just dealing with what he was seeing on the court.
“The integrity of the sport is more important than any promotion for television,” Packer told USA Today.
Packer is right. Still, the majority of sports broadcasters, who value their own credibility, usually wait until late – very late – in a game to declare a winner.
You could tell by Jim Nantz’s reaction at the time it was a shocking thing to say. For myself I was too busy gathering up my jaw from the floor at the sight of my 36-2 Tar Heels down 40-12 in the first half. And in all honesty he ended up being right though he did say when UNC cut it to four he had never seen anything like it before. The point for CBS is you cannot have you on-air guys proclaiming the game is over with seven minutes left in the first half unless UNC is playing, I don’t know, NC State.
Hat tip Awful Announcing and commenter GoCamels.