Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.
Fortunately Clark Kellogg already was seated when his boss, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, phoned him in September. "I was surprised," he said. "If I hadn't been sitting down I would have fallen down."
After five NCAA Tournaments as CBS' lead college basketball analyst, Kellogg was informed that day that he was headed back to his previous longtime post in the studio, essentially trading places with Greg Anthony.
"I just didn't have any idea that would be something that was contemplated," he said. "And yet, not immediately, but within a few hours of the call and realizing that was the case, I basically just embraced it.
"There wasn't much I could do about it. I'm thankful they feel good enough about my work in the studio that they feel it is enhancing our overall coverage. I've always been a team guy, and that's how I approached it."
This was Wednesday night, six months after the fact, as Kellogg made final preparations for his return to the biggest three weeks on college basketball's television calendar.
If hard feelings lingered, they were not evident. But there would be a transition to make. Much has changed since Kellogg last worked the NCAAs from West 57th Street in Manhattan rather than courtside.
For one, all 67 games now are available across four TV channels, which allows more time for analysis from the studio, something Kellogg said during a break Thursday had proved to be a "cool" new element of the job.
For another, there are some new partners in town. Kellogg found himself seated among three members of Turner's NBA studio team: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. "I told him, 'This will be a different animal for you when you're with these two guys,' " Johnson said. "But really it's not that tough, because I think Kenny and Charles have great respect for what Clark has done."
During a break, Kellogg said everyone was getting along famously. "I love to laugh, and these guys made sure I do so on a regular basis," he said.
The only negative: A loss by his alma mater, Ohio State, to Dayton in the day's first game. He was not surprised. "I want to see them do well all the time, but the reality is this was a very, very limited Ohio State team."
Kellogg knows his Buckeyes well, but in the days leading up to the NCAAs, he prepared notes to himself on every team in the bracket. He finalized them in his hotel Wednesday while listening online to his son, Nick, play for Ohio University against Cleveland State in the CIT.
Nick made a key basket as Ohio advanced to face Wright State Saturday. If the Bobcats win that game, Clark should be able to see Nick in person in the next round.
Speaking of which, Kellogg said a blessing in disguise from his reassignment was that he was able to see more of Nick's games in person than he would have otherwise. "I'm extremely grateful for that," he said.
McManus said CBS was pleased with the work of Kellogg and Anthony but believed a reversal of roles would suit each better. "We thought Clark was so dynamic and so enthusiastic those qualities are probably better expressed in the studio," McManus said. "I think it's worked out really well."
Kellogg arrived around 10 yesterday morning and kept it healthy at breakfast, then focused on a "big tub of mixed nuts" he keeps near him on the set.
"I'm going to eat; that's a given," he said. "I don't turn up my nose at any food."
As "a little bit of a night owl," Kellogg wasn't worried about stamina. By 7:30, with the night games tipping off, he looked fresh, and not inclined to look back. "I'm ready to go, man," he said. "I'll be there for the duration."