This whole March Madness craze has taken on a life of its own. It seems every year, more and more people are talking Final Four. Did your team get in? Who do you play?
My wife is totally into the tournament. Of course it helps that her alma mater VCU has been the surprise team of the tournament—despite national TV sports analysts questioning VCU's worthiness of their at-large bid. But whatever the case, it's made for some pretty exciting college basketball.
March Madness is becoming the Super Bowl of early spring. College buddies getting together at a local bar to watch, eat and cheer on their team. Picking up a case of Corona on the way home. The office pool guy hovering around your desk until you get off your business phone call. It's all good. Love this time of year. If only I could find my game on TV!
Is Duke on TruTV? Or CBS? Is Kansas on CBS? No, they're on TBS I think. I thought Ohio State was on TBS? No, they're on TNT. Are you sure? I thought O-State was on Bravo? Or TLC.
I think we've all spent the past few days flipping back and forth. Reaching for the sport section to determine which channel was carrying our game. By the way, where is TruTV? Is that a new channel? And where is my channel guide. I need to find what the heck a TruTv is!!
Before you accuse me of whining, I'm happy all the games are finally on TV. Remember the days when CBS was the only game in town for March Madness. There was a time when you might not see your college team play on TV.
Or you'd have to wait for CBS to air an update or magically switch to your game in the Indonesian Regional. Hey, it was frustrating. But in this new age of televising everything everywhere, television networks can bring you all the tournament games all the time. Pretty nice, huh?
I'm just getting dizzy finding the games. It seems all the channels carrying the matchups are spread all over the place. CBS is easy to find on your screen because it's one of your local channels, and one of the channels you probably watch on a frequent basis. You know where it is. No problem.
But TNT and TBS are somewhere out there. I think it's channel 200. Or is is 64? Or perhaps channel 150. I don't know. Have you seen the channel guide? Oh wait, the channel guide is channel 100, right?
Fact of the matter is, I don't know where some of the games are broadcast. The games are too spread out. Too many channels. Too many networks. Too much of a hassle to find them. It's nice all the games are available on TV, but they're too difficult to find. The games are everywhere, and that has some drawbacks.
Memo to CBS, TruTv, TBS, TNT and the NCAA: find a way to put all the games next to or near each other on the channel guide.
Viewers should be able to flip from channel 200 to channel 201 to channel 202 to channel 203 and so one to watch the games. It would make it a more enjoyable experience, and it can be done. Not easily, but doable.
I give a lot of credit to CBS for reaching out to the other networks to expand television coverage. Great idea. The execution is flawed, but correctable. T
hey have a ton of studio hosts and analysts examining the games and the outcomes. Ernie Smith and Greg Gumbel have done a fantastic job of anchoring and hosting the coverage.
You don't need two hosts, but I understand the predicament CBS and TNT are facing. Gumbel has been the signature anchor on the March Madness broadcasts for years.
Gumbel and Clark Kellogg were the John Madden/Al Michaels of the NCAA tournament. They were great together. But along the way, Kellog was kicked out of the studio, and Seth Davis replaced him.
They tried Kellogg and Davis together with Gumbel in the studio for a couple of years but decided one of them had to bounce. Strange decision, but it's the same network that employed Charlie Sheen as he embarrassingly partied around the clock for several years.
They've got so many studio analysts is funny. First of all, Charles Barkley is subdued. Did someone at CBS Sports tell him not to bring that TNT craziness to West 57th? He's too quiet for what we've come to expect from his basketball observations.
Are the marbled halls of legendary CBS Sports New York too pristine for his in-your-face commentary? I was expecting to see Barkley in the pre-game, halftime and post game shows, and instead I'm getting a reserved Barkley. I don't like it. Was he told to tone it down?
Greg Anthony, Davis, Kenny "The Jet" Smith and musical chairs of college coaches have produced some interesting TV coverage.
The chemistry between all of them has been awkward or non-existent for that matter. Anthony is more of a straight shooter and more suited for the reserved CBS Sports style of analyzing college games.
Smith and Barkley are the guys in your living room downing cold beer with you and talking smack about the game. That's why the TNT basketball show is so successful and highly watchable and popular. Watching all of them on the set together is like watching water and oil mix. And we all know they don't mix.
You can tell Barkley wants to let loose. Smith has tried to let his personality shine but won't let go. Ernie has been holding back too.
The coverage would be more entertaining if everyone would just be themselves. Gumble is trying to loosen up, but that's not his shtick. That's not who he is, and that's okay. I like Gumbel being Gumbel.
But unfortunately, the studio shows are lacking because none of the hosts and analysts are comfortable around each other.
It's a new way of doing things for CBS Sports and March Madness. These are growing pains. It's great we can finally see all the games as they air. It's nice having an array of talking heads giving their opinion on what they're seeing.
However, it might be wise to do some evaluating on where sports lovers can find the find the games on TV. And for heavens sake, let Barkley be Barkley.