We’re entering a brave new world. The NCAA Tournament, a longtime fixture on CBS, has spread the wealth. With that the college basketball world welcomes TNT, TBS and TruTV to the table.
Turner Sports hosted a meet-and-greet brunch at the Time Warner building recently that included part of its broadcast team, Steve Kerr and Marv Albert, and several executives.
Many fans will tell you the additional networks and the diversity amongst broadcasters won’t change their viewing habits. Fans will go with their teams or the best games. While that is certainly true, it will be interesting to hear the likes of Kerr, Albert, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith talk in depth about college basketball.
For Albert, it’s a step back into the past. Albert worked college basketball prior to NBC getting the NBA in the 1990s. Albert seemed to be excited about getting back into the college game, despite the grind.
“It’s a happy grind,” Albert said. “This is extra exciting because I haven’t done college since my early NBC days…I look forward to it. The games are very exciting, the fervor of the crowd…You just can’t miss it.”
For Kerr, it’s a return to his roots. Kerr became a hero in Arizona after helping the Wildcats get to the Final Four in 1988. He’s been apart of the NBA family as a player/GM/analyst for nearly two decades, but he always kept a watch over the college game.
“I actually signed with TNT in July after I left my Phoenix Suns position and everything was already in the works, so when they called and said we’d love to have you back, they told me ‘Oh by the way, we have the NCAA Tournament, too’,” Kerr said. “I said let me in…It’s one of my favorite sporting events.”
Kerr recalled his days growing up as a college basketball fan.
“I grew up a UCLA fan, a college basketball fan,” he said. “I grew up watching Dick Enberg, Dick McGuire and Billy Packer…So to be apart of it as a broadcaster is really exciting.”
Kerr acknowledged the subtle and not-so subtle differences between analyzing professional and college games. “What’s fun are the games themselves,” Kerr said. “It’s about the passion of the kids, the excitement and the tension…The one-and-done aspect.”
As for the specifics of the collaboration between CBS, Turner and the NCAA, it’s a 14-year deal worth $10.8 billion. Every tournament game will be available on one of the four networks, with CBS broadcasting the Final Four this year.
Two studios, based in New York and Atlanta, will anchor the coverage. Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson will anchor the studio coverage. Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith will provide analysis alongside Gumbel and Johnson from CBS’ broadcast center in New York.
Reggie Miller and Seth Davis will join the New York studio rotation for the second week of the tournament. Matt Winer will anchor the studio coverage from Turner Studios in Atlanta with Steve Smith.
Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg will call the Final Four with Kerr. The tournament tips-off with the NCAA First Four onTruTV Tuesday, March 15. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Kerr will call the action. Tracy Wolfson will be courtside.