Billy Packer: Goodbye and Good RiddanceJuly 14, 2008
There are a few things in life I'll never understand: Braille on drive-thru ATMs. Why Radiohead is popular. Why Ohio State fans talk down the SEC's scheduling when the Big Ten is such a joke. And how anyone could enjoy listening to a game called by Billy Packer.
A joyless, grouchy old man, Packer had been ruining the last weekend of the the Big Dance for nearly three decades. Everything from his disinterested commentary during the game to his unfettered hatred of mid-major teams to his unabashed love affair with the ACC dragged down the final three games of the college basketball season.
Duke Dick Vitale has a more public love affair with all things ACC. And while Vitale is certainly a clown in his own right, at least you can tell he loves the game. His shtick is nerve-grating, but he exudes passion and joy whenever he talks hoops.
Meanwhile, Billy Packer's routine is two-fold: 1) Spout off random facts that have little relevance to the game that's being played, and 2) Make countless matter-of-fact statements that are either blatantly obvious or a biased opinion and indulge no dissenting views. Do both in a monotone voice with an unbelievable air of arrogance.
The NCAA tournament is the best time of year, and this move by CBS will go a long way to making it even better. Packer's successor Clark Kellogg is a far more personable guy who's been a staple on the CBS studio show for years.
While there may be some bumps in the road as he adapts to in-game commentary on the fly, I have no doubt that he will be much easier to listen to than Billy Packer was. Hopefully CBS will be smart with their replacement of Kellogg.
One useless yet ubiquitous sports announcer gone. Now if we can just get rid of Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver...